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Full text of "The Coffin family : the life of Tristram Coffyn, of Nantucket, Mass., founder of the family line in America; together with reminiscences and anecdotes of some of his numerous descendants, and some historical information concerning the ancient families named Coffyn"

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THE COFFIX FdMILY. 
THE LIFE 

OF 

TEISTRAM COFFYN 

OF NANTUCKET, MASS., 

FOUIi'DER OF THE FAMILY LIXE IN AMERICA; 



TOGETHER AVITII 



EEMINISCENCES AXD ANECDOTES OF SOME OF HIS NUilER- 
OUS DESCENDANTS, AND SOME HISTORICAL IN- 
FORMATION CONCERNING THE ANCIENT 
FAMILIES NAMED COFFYN. 















BY ,ALLE]S^ :GOFFIN, LL.B. 






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NANTUCKET: 






PUBLISHED BY IIUSSEY k KOBIN'SON. 

1881. 


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1 




PBEFACE. •C(p'/i 



In presenting to the public this brief outline of the history of the Cof- 
fin family, the author is not unmindful of its many imperfections. The work 
first undertaken was soon perceived would require years to perfect. A full 
and correct history and genealogy of the Coffin family cannot be compiled 
■without immense labor, and would be of little value unless accurate in de- 
tails. 

Desirous of oflering to the great gathering of the descendants of Tris- 
tram Coflyn, to assemble in August, 1881, some information respecting the 
origin, rise, and development of this numerous family, the author, notwith- 
tanding his fear of disappointing the reasonable expectations of friends, has 
ibmitted this humble production, in the hope that it will receive the con- 
iderate judgment of its readers, and possibly aid the future historian who 
ihall attempt a more comprehensive family history. 

No statement of fact is made without citing its authority ; and if, from 

-he facts cited, the author has drawn conclusions at variance with hitherto 

a.ccepted opinions, he is persuaded that the facts amply warrant such new 

departure. While some historical facts ar.e believed to be here collectively 

presented for the first time, the author by no means concludes that the field 

Df investigation is exhausted, or that further research may not still more 

essentially change results-. .• ■ < ,...,,, 

Mr. William E. Cof^v'o?;HiphiBQncl,<In(S., ki-bflly 'p)a^ed H^lhable manu- 

' * ' ' * ' •" ' • f ' * « . t' < 
•scripts from his own pen, and a l^rge collection of other documents and 

papers, in the author's bands, who. Ji^f^; expressed 'a Ver vent gratitude there- 
far. John Coffin Jonesj BrQAj'H^r^psci,. of . Boston, placed the author under 
obligations for valuable;Stspltitiinoe;ii^ ^eaECying;tae. npole librarjes of Boston, 
particularly in the domain of heraldry. And for other valuable suggestions 
and literary aid, the author is indebted to George Howland Folger, Esq., of 
Cambridge, Mass., William C. Folger, Esq., Mr. AUred Swain, and JNIiss 
Stella L. Chase, of Nantucket. The entire proceeds of the sale will be ap- 
plied to the Memorial Fund. * 



THE COFFIK FAMILY. 



TRTSTR.A:M COFFYX, (as he always si-^ned his name,) the founder of 
the family line in America, and from whom all persons by the name 
ot Coffin in this country are descended, was born at Brixton, a small 
parish and village, near Plymouth, in the southwestern part of Devonshire 
County, Engliuid, in the year 1C05. lie married Dionis Stevens, 
daughter of llobert Stevens, esquire, of Brixton, and, in 1642, emigrated 
to America with his wife, live small children, his widowed mother, and 
two unmarried sisters. He lived alternately in Salisbury, Haverhill and 
Newbury, in the Colony of Massachusetts, until 1659, when he came to 
IN^antucket, then under the jurisdiction of New York, and made arrange- 
ments for the purchase of the island by a company Avhich he organized 
At Salisbury. He returned to the island with his family in 16C0, where 
"^ lived until his death, which happened on the 2d day of October, A. I). 
1681, at his new residence on the hill, at Xorthham, near Capauni Pond, 
.at the aire of 76 years. 

Coffin is a word of Hebrew origin, signifying a small basket. 
"Whether the Israelitish hosts were sufficiently enlightened to be in the 
enjoyment of baskets before the Egyptians, or whether the chosen peo- 
X)le of God were especially favored with a knowledge of the art of basket- 
making while the rest of the world plodded on with less commodious 
means of transit, are matters which cannot at this remote period of time 
be satislactorily answered. But when, according to sacred history, we 
read that a multitude, from a desert place, Avere fed with five loaves and 
two fishes, and there was taken up of the fragments that remained twelve 
baskets full, we may be assured that baskets flourished among the Jews 
anterior to the Christian era ; so, of course, small baskets, or coffins, arc 
of Jewish origin. 

From Arthur's " Derivation ot Family Names," we find that Coffin is 
inAVelsh Cijffin, which signifies a boundary, a limit, or a hill; Cefi/\t a 
ridge of a hill. This authority also says the name has its origin trom 
Co, high, exalted, imdjfn, a head, extremity, boundary, but the family 



4 THE COFFIN FAMILY. 

surname is prohably not indebted to either of these last-named deriva- 
tions. It is believed Ijy many that, some time before the Norman Con- 
qiK'st of Enirland by AVilliam, whicli took place in lOGG, the family of 
C'ottin liveil in Normandy, a dncliy of France, -which the Norsemen had 
made jU'cnliarly their own by invasion and conquest. And it has been 
claimed by some of the enthusiastic descendants of Tristram that the 
Coffins, ill the Old "\\'orld, prevailed l^efore the time of the Pharaohs, and 
in the New World, came in with the Mtiytlower. Yet both of these state- 
ments are unfounded. The civilization of the East had doubtless i>ressed 
■westward as far as the Ena-lish Channel before the Northern hordes, 
under that rude and impetuous Scandinavian chieftain, named Hollo, in- 
vaded that portion of France which subsequently l^ecame Normandy. 
And it is i)ossiblc that the ancestors of the Coffin family passed from 
Palestine to Greece several centuries before the Christian era, and, some- 
time later, from Greece to the southern part of France. If, however, a 
trace from Palestine is admitted, it is none the less conclusive that' the 
valor and military prowess ot the Norsemen l)ecamc the controlling cle- 
ment in tlie Norman French character from the time of Rollo, A. D. 912, 
up to the time of the Norman Conquest of Enadand, -svhen the name of 
Coftyn first ai)pears in En2:lish history. The distino'uishina- traits of the 
Coffin family since it made a history are not Hebraic but either Norse or 
ancient Uriton. I incline to the belief that our Norman ancestors came 
down in early times Avith the vast military hordes which passed through 
the German Ocean and the British seas, encountering every imaginable 
peril, l)oth by sea and land, and braving eveiy hardship and privation of 
fleet and camp, to find a region of country more congenial and pro- 
ductive than their own native Scandinavia. Thev were the ffreat navi- 
gators of their age. And their descendants, in our own time, from Nan- 
tucket as well as from other parts of New England, have shown the 
s<aiiie energy and endured like hardsliips in pursuing the whale-tisliery in 
the Pacific Ocean, aiid in sending whole fleets of ad\ enturers more than 
half way round the globe to dig for gold in California and Australia. 
]5ut tliis same hardy experience may have been gained from the life in 
Devonsliire, England, which developed some of the bravest navigators 
jind most daring spii-its that ever uphelil the English flag, like Sir Walter 
Kaleigh and Sir Francis Drake, Avho were born and reared in the southern 
part of Devonshire, whence Tristram CoffNii came. 

^^■llat, in tlie AFiddle Ages, was called an invasion, we now term an 
expedition. Our historians are wont to designate these hardy self-re- 
liant adventurers which overran and conquered tlie countries lying on 
either side of the Pritish Channel as barbarians ; but I am persuaded 
that in both instances — the Danes in England and the Swedes and Nor- 
■wegians in France — brought and maintained a higher type of civilization 
in tliese respective countries than had hitherto existed there. 



( 



THE COFFIN F.OllLY. 5 

The Eastern civilization was met and absorbed by the Xorse at the 
A'cry time when personal individual names were l)ecomini!f crystalli/ced 
with second desii!:nations which we call surnames. The simple indi- 
vidual surnames we tind in use throuirhout all pre-Norman history ; but 
they seem to have been only for the life of him to whonii they were at- 
tached, and died with him. It was not till the eleventh century that 
surnames can be said to have becojuc hereditary, or in any true sense 
stationary ; yet there were marked exceptions growing- out of the i)eculiar 
conditions of feudal tenures in Xoi-mandy. The name of Cotttn may 
belong to this exceptional class, which, commencing in France anterior 
to the Norman Con(|uest, in the pale mazes of \tncertainty, has survived 
the mutations of eight centuries in England, to which it was lirst trans- 
planted, and, from the American branch, in little more than two and one- 
half centuries, has become tirmly engrafted upon the Western Continent, 
and returned many scions back unto the Old World from which they 
i^prang. 

8j)eaking of names derived from occupations, Bardsley, in his 
English Surnames, says : "It is to some dealer in earthenware we owe 
■the name of ' Pots,' some worker in metals our ' Hammers,' some car- 
penter our ' Cottins,' once synonymous with ' Cotfer.' " And he elsewhere 
.says: "It is hard to say whether our 'Cotters' are relics of the old 
Coffrer or Coifei\ but as the latter business was all l)ut entirely in the 
■hands of females, perhaps it will be safer to refer them to the other." 
Again he says: " Our ' Cotters,' relics of the old 'Ralph le Cotterer' or 
'John le Cotterer,' though something occupative, were nevertheless 
.otficial also, and are to be found as such in the thirteenth centiyy. They 
remind \is of the day when there were no such things as check-books, 
nor banks, nor a paper-money currency. Then, on every expedition, be 
it warlike or peaceful, solid gold or silver had to be borne for the baron's 
■expenditure and that of his retinue ; therefore none would be more im- 
portant than he who superintended the transit from place to place of the 
chest of solid coinage, set under his immediate care." The cottei'cr was 
the treasurer of the royal or baronial retinue, and Irom the office was 
derived the name. And he further says: "Our 'Cotters' represent 
.seemingly the same word in a two-fold capacity. We find occasional 
records where the cotterer was undoubtedly an otficial servant, a treas- 
urer, one who carried the money of his lord in his journeyings up and 
■down. More often, however, he was a tradesman, a maker or dealer iu 
cotters or coftins, the two words l)eing once used altogether indiscrimi- 
nately." We may never feel satisfactorily assured that the name Cottin 
Avas both otticial and occupative ; but that it was one or tlie other in its 
origin no doul^t may longer exist. If you turn to the ancient vei'sion of 
.the New Testament, in what is known as "\Mcklytte's translation, and 
read the story of the five loaves and two fishes, in Mark vi, 4:5, you will 




6 THE COFFIX F.UULY. 

find that the word coffyus is used in place of ])askets, the verse readin<r 
thus : " And they token the rel>"\'es of broken mete, twelve coffyns full."' 
Thus it will be seen that this word oria:inated l)aek, far ])ack, in the gruy 
morning: twilight of Asiatic life, in the nomadic period of man's ex- 
istence, Ix'fore the Bethlehem shepherds guarded their flocks 1)y night on 
Judea's plains. Moving westward with the march of empire it retained 
its signiticance upon the borders of the English Channel, surviving the 
destructiveness of the Norwegian adventurers of the ninth century ; 
and, becoming Normanized, it was tirst used as a sign-name, and then 
adopted as a surname from the official or business occupation, feudalism 
making it hereditary. 

"William the Conqueror, was horn at Fallaise, a town of Xormandy, 
France, in the department of Calvados, '22 miles S. S. E^ of Caen, on the 
river Ante, in the year 1024:. It is now a town of about 15,000 inhabi- 
tants, having still in the ruins of its ancient castle one of the finest 
towers in France. The town is l)uilt upon clitfs commanded by an old 
Norman castle and surrounded by a picturesque country. An equestrian 
bronze statue of William was erected hei-e in ISol. Within two short 
leagues of Fallaise stands the old chateau of Courtiton, once the home 
of the Norman Cotlins, the family name having now become extinct in 
that vicinage. The present owner, ]Mons. Le Clefe, is the grandson of 
the last Miss Coffin, the estate having descended in an unbroken male 
line, as is supposed, until her accession. She married, in 179G, from 
which time the name of Le Clere has succeeded to that of Coffin as pos- 
sessors of this ancient estate. Admiral Henry E. Coffin, of the English 
Navy, a nephew of Admiral Sir Isaac, is the authority for the last state- 
ment. In a letter to Mr. William E. Coffin, of Richmond, Ind., written 
in ()ctol)er, is.so, he thus descrii)es this old Ncn-man chateau which he 
had several times visited: "It stands at the bottom of a hill in front of 
a lake. The drive to it is through ornamented wood, a zig-zag road 
tlescending to it. There is only the dining-room, kitchen, and part of 
tlie old house remaining, and the new part has two drawing-rooms built 
two luuidred years ago, but looicing nice." 

It was upon this old estate, perhaps, that the first Norman CofiNn, of 
English fame, was l>orn ; and, being one of the younger sons, having 
no hope of an inheritance, if he rose to distinction in life it must be by 
his own endeavors. Keared witluu two leagues of Fallaise, he may have 
often si)orted with the youthful William, and been a favored guest at tlie 
Ducal Palace. When William's father, Rol)ert, made his pilgrimage to 
the Holy Sepulchre, never to return, Cofiyn's father may haA'C shared 
in the vicissitudes of that expedition; and, if in the capacity of keeper 
of the Duke's strong box, the name of Cott'yn may have dated from the 
return of that mournful retinue as an individualized surname. 



L_ / 



TIIE COFFIX FAMILY. 7 

From the time of the Xorman Conquest the family of Coffin has been 
■well known in England, aecordina' to Prince's Worthies of Devon, and 
there is some reason for supposino- that members of this family came over 
before the Conquest and settled in Somerset and Devon and Dorset, for 
it is an undisputed fact that many Norman families took iip their resi- 
dences in Ensfland before the landin;^ of William, and that some of tliem 
received favors from Pxhvard the Confessor. When the Conqueror ordered 
the " Great Survey of all Lands,"" completed some twenty years after the 
battle of Hastings, the Coffins were entered in Domesday Book as being 
possessed of several hides land, as stated by Sir William Pole in his MSS. 
of "Devon and its Knights, in the reigns of the earlier Kings of England." 
A " hide land" was an uncertain quantity, supposed to be as much arable 
land as -would maintain a family, and was a term used by the Saxons in 
measuring land, before the Norman French language was introduced as 
the regular language of the courts of law. In 1080, when Domesday 
was compiled, the conquered Saxons found that such of them as opposed 
the Conqueror in any manner had their lands contiscatcd. And the lands 
thus conliscated were granted out by the Conqueror to his faithful fol- 
lowers. Thus all the land in the kingdom " not possessed by the C^hurch 
■was held by the King in demesne, or of him directly, or of- the honors he 
had seized and retained, as feuds, bj' comparatively few individuals." 
The lands gi-anted were not given freely and without price, but were to 
be held of the King, subject to the performance of certain military duties 
as the condition of their enjoyment. 

The most ancient seat of the name and family of Coffin in England, 
is now called Portledge, in the parish of Alwington, near Bideford, 
County of Devon. If it has been in the family from the settlement of 
the estates by Domesday, there can be little doubt that it was granted to 
Sir Richard Cotiyn, Knight, for valuable services rendered the Con- 
queror, in that wonderfully romantic feudal age, when the barons and 
knights and esquires and Serjeants became proprietors of vast estates, 
including castles, abbeys, villages, and even entire towns, throughout 
England. The great antiquity of the Coffins is further estaldished, 
says Prince, by a boundary deed made near the time of the Con- 
quest, and written in Saxon, between Richard Coffin, Lord of the 
Manor of Alwington and Cockementon, and the Abbot of Tavistock, in 
relation to the Abbey lands of Tavistock in the parish of Ab])otshani 
near adjoining Alwington. One of the covenants was that "the Abbot 
and Convent of Tavistock should give to the said Richard Coffyn and his 
next heir, full fraternity in his Church of Tavistock, to receive there the 
habit of religion whenever (God so inspiring) they would ; and that in 
the meantime they should haA'e the privilege of one monk there." 

Feudal tenures, or holding of the King, were introduced with other 
Xorman customs and upheld and interpreted b}' the Xorman lawyers, 



8 THE COFFIN f.\:mily. 

who naturally adhered to the precedents they were used to in their OAvn 
country. Of the rule of primofreniture ]Slaine\s Ancient Law says: 
"The ideas and social forms which contributed to the formation of the 
system were unquestionably barbarian and archaic; but as soon as 
courts and lawyers were called in to interpret and detine it, the princi- 
ples of interpretation which they applied to it were those of the latest 
Roman jurisprudence, and were, therefore, excessively refined and 
matured. In a patriarchically governed society the eldest son may suc- 
ceed to the government of the agnatic groupe and to the absolute dis- 
posal of its property. But he is not, therefore, a true proprietor. * * 
* * * The contact of the refined and barbarous nation had inevitaljly 
for its effect, the conversion of the eldest son into legal proprietor of the 
inheritance. The clerical and secular lawyers so defined his position 
from the first ; but it was only by insensible degrees that the younger 
brother, trom participating on equal terms in all the dangers and enjoy- 
ments of his kinsman, sank into the priest, the soldier of fortune, or the 
hanger-on of the mansion." 

The family multiplied, and very early the younger sons of the first 
Coffins domiciled in England, had established branches which appear to 
have flouiished in divers parts of Devonshire. The elder son always 
s.icceeding to the estates until, from various causes, the feudal system of 
tenures gradually gave way, and upon the restoration of Charles 11. was 
wholly abolished. Notwithstanding the feudal system of tenures in 
England had long since passed into dissuetude, the form has, in some 
instances, been preserved ; and the Portledge manor, once including the 
Parish of Alwington, is one of the very few estates in England which 
have been held l)y the same family for six or seven centuries, the most 
reliable historians of Devonshire all conceding that it has been in the 
family for many centuries. I find the name of Coffin and Coflyn largely 
identified with the County of Devon from its earliest reliable history. 
Most writers upon the family name have considered Portledge, in the 
northwestern part of the county, as the earliest home of the Coffins in 
England, and, naturally enough, have come to the conclusion that Tris- 
tram Cottyn descended from that house. I have not, however, been 
forced to any such conclusion. The present proprietor of Portledge, 
John Kichard Pine Coffin, a magistrate for Devon, and Lord of the 
^Manors of Alwington, (ioldsworthy and ilonkleigh, finds nothing in the 
records of Portledge leading to such a conclusion. He does not even 
find the family names of Tristram and Peter, and barely a Nicholas. 
The earliest record of I'ortledge i)roj)rietors, as 1 infer from the list given 
])y the i)resent pnjprietor, is that of Kichard Coffin, A. D. 12o4, a deed of 
that date being a small charter of Henry III., in Latin, " whereby at the 
instance of John de Courtenay, the sovereign grants to Ric. Coffin and 
his heirs free warren in all his demesnes and lands of Alwington, in the 




THE COFFIN FAMILY. 9 

County of Devon.'" Another deed said to be the oldest amonp: the family 
records of Portledije, in the same reign of Henry III., Avhereby Richard 
■Cophin grants unto Thomas de I)udderig,ire certain lands. 

Oliver's Ecclesiastical Antiquities of Devon (p. 2-i) mentions Nicholas 
Coffin, as vicar of the Church at Chudleigh, in the soiitheastern part of 
Devon, some 40 miles from Portledge, as early as l;3o7. Concerning this 
vicarage Rev. Mr. Oliver says: "The Church of Chudleigh forms the 
. subject of a deed of John, Bishop of Exeter, between the years 118(3 and 
1191. The Parish Church Avas dedicated by Bishop Bronescoml^e, on the 
6th of November, 1:^.01).'" Among the incuml)ents, Nicholas (without a 
surname) is the tirst name met with. He is believed to be the vicar who 
bequeathed, in l:>0;5, to the Falu'ic of Exeter Cathedral, vi *•. viii d. John 
Fitz Hugh, occurs vicar the liDth of September, 1.S17. Nicholas Coffin, 
instituted the 2Uth of June, i;>o7. Tliomas dc Marston, the 2:]d of 
]March, l;34r8. It is fair to jn-esume that this Nicholas Coffin was vicar of 
the Chudleigh Church from the date of his institution, (looT) till the in- 
stitution of his successor, in 1:548. 

The earliest mention of the name Coffin in any Heraldic Visitation 
of Devonshire is found in that of HJ20, in connection with the familj" of 
le ]Moyne or ]Monk, the name changing from le ]\Ioyne to ]\Ionk al)out 
142o. Hugh le Moyne, in the od year of the reign of Edward I., accord- 
ing to his pedigree, was descended from Peter le Moyne, who married 
Maude, daughter of Coffin of Beacombe. By allowing 30 years for a 
generation, ]Maude Coffin must have been born about lUO, and her father 
about 1110. It was from this family 'that the celebrated George ^lonk, 
Duke of Albemarle, Avas descended. He Avas conspicuous in the resto- 
ration of Charles II., the soldiers and popiilace poised upon his Avord, 
and Avhen he declared for a free Parliament, their enthusiasm Avas un- 
bounded. Of him ^lacauley saj's : "As soon as his declaration AA'as 
knoAvn, the Avhole nation Avas Avild Avith delight. Wherever he appeared 
thousands thronged round him shouting aiid l)lessing his name. The 
bells of England rang joyously ; the gutters ran Avith ale ; and night after 
night the sky live miles round London Avas reddened by innumerable 
bontires." 

The Coffin family has also been allied by intermarriages Avith many 
other honorable lamilies, among them, may be found Chudleigh, Carey, 
Courtney, Beaumont, Prideaux, Clifford, and even Avith Royalty, liaA'ing 
married granddaughters and great-granddaughters of ^^'illianl the Con- 
queror, Henry I. and EdAvard I. 

Of Alphington Church, in the southeastern part of the county, near 
Exeter, (j)p. 72-74,) ReA^ ^Ir. Oliver says: "In front of the gallery is 
the date of its erection, liJ'.Vl ; and in the panels are several shields, some, 
I think, incorrectly blazoned. We observed Southcot's, Tothilfs, Duck's, 
Oxenham's ; Arms of the See of Exeter impaled Avith Dr. Hall's, then 



10 THE C'OFFIX FAMILY. 

Bishop of Exeter ; Bourchier's, Earl of Bath, then the patron ; Coui-te- 
nay'^ impaled with Soymoiir's : Bampfylde's ; Northleigh's ; Coffin';*, hold- 
ers of property at :Mar.sh Barton ; Prust'is. Ilolway's of Wadeton, Arms of 
the Taylor's Company, Exeter. ***** Within the parish was 
the ancient Cell or Priory, of St. Mary, dependant on Plympton Priory, 
and now commonly called Marsh Barton. ***** Soon after the 
dissohition of llelioious Ilonses, Henry YIII. granted the scite with sev- 
eral messuages m Alphington, St. Thomas, and Newton St. Cj'res parish, 
on Sept. 9, 1546, to James Coffin and Thomas Godwin. This James Coffin, 
on 10 Dec, 15G2, 8old to John Hoker, the historian, for £27, all the oak, 
ash, elm, and other trees standing in the grove, on the south part 
of the ^Mansion House of Marsh, between the running water on the S. 
and the open pasture adjoining the said Mansion on the X., and the 
great pool on the W., and a ditch on the E., together with some other 
oaks towards the S. E. part of the Mansion. Hardly a vestige of this 
Priory has been sutfered to remain." 

The parish of Coffin's Well, also in the southeastern part of Devon, 
has a chapel which is a dependant of St. Mary's Church. Domesdaj' 
proves that St. Mary's Church, in the reign of Edward the Confessor, 
belonged to the Cathedral of Exeter. In St. Mary's C^liurch is an epitaph 
of Margaret, the wife of .lohn Holbrine, esquire, and daughter of William 
Fowlett, who died at Coffin's Well, 11th of May, 15-26. In making note of 
this family, Mr. Oliver queries "Did they reside at the Barton near Coffin's^ 
Well Church?" The chapel at Coffin's Well he describes as " low, and 
measures with its tower (which contains four bells three of which are 
ancient) 72^ feet in length and 26 in breadth. A north aisle is tinited to 
the Chancel and Nave bj' four arches ; on the south of the C'hancel is a 
.small Chantry 10 feet by 9. In a window of tlie north aisle I observed a 
figure of the Blessed Virgin with a label Ave Miria, 2)Ie)ia yracia, as 
also a fragment of the sacred name I II S. The parochial registers begin 
with Christmas, 1560." In a note Mr. Oliver observes " This hamlet was 
originally called Welles. Several families, the Huretons, the Ferrers, 
the Foliots, held property here, which at last came to the Coffins. In fol. 
47 of the Cartulary of Tor Abbey (now in Trinity College, Dublin) is an 
agreement between Simon, AbI)ot of Tor, and Robert Cottyn, in relation 
to certain teiu'ments in Welles Cotfyn, and release confirmatory thereof." 

Westcote's Devonshire ([). 410) says: "There is Coffin's Well, be- 
longing to the Coffin family. Of this family we find Sir Hugo Coffin, of 
Combe-Coffin, or Coffin-Pyne, in the age of Richard I. (1189-1199); Sir 
Hugh, of the same, in the time of Henry HI. (1216-1272) ; and Sir Elias, 
of this place (Coffin's Well) ; but presently after, in Etlward's reign, Sir 
Bobert de ScobbahuU ; in later times, by the heir of Coll, it descended 
to Prideaux." 



THE COFFIN FAillLY. 11 

A recent writer in the Cornhill ]Ma,2:azine, under tlie title of Lynit?- 
Ilep,-is, descril)in,2; the red coast of Devonshire, England, makes this- 
mention of C'onibe-Pyne, formerly Combe-CotUn : 

"From Beer and Seaton we may return to Lyme by the high road 
over Axbridge and close to Combc-Pyne — the first half of which is our 
old friend ronibe, a valley, while the second half belongs to the ancient 
lords of'the manor, the famous Devonshire family of the Pynes. At a 
still earlier date Combe Avas the property of the Cotfins, another great 
Devonshire house, and then bore the name of Combe-Coffin. Later on, 
the two families coalesced, and so gave origin to the ludicrous modern 
surname of Pyne-Coffin, borne l)y the branch of the old stock now settled 
at the Alwington House near Clovelly. Combe-Pyne, as its name sug- 
gests, is a pleasant little vale, where a tributary of the Axe has cut 
through the layer of chalk and reached the greensand below." 

Combe-Pyne is in the extreme eastern part of Devon, bordering 
Tipon Dorset, and is allowed by Rev. Mr. Oliver to have once l>elonged to 
the Pyne family, and much more anciently to the family of Coffin. 
Henry de Medecroft de Wyke Risingdon being admitted to this Rectory 
of Comb-Coftyn, April i>0, li\U. 

Combe-Raleigh was occasionally called Combe-Coffin, as stated in a 
note, probably for the same reason that it also once belonged to the 
Coffin family. 

From the post-office directory of Devonshire of recent issue a post 
office is noted at the parish of Spreyton, in the central part of the 
County called " Coffins." 

Rev. ^Ir. Prince, in his Worthies of Devonshire, makes mention of 
" Coffin's Ingarly," [now probably Inwardleigh,] in the west part of the 
Province ; in which last place the Mansion House was near the Church, 
to which was belonging a fair deer park now wholly demolished. 

In Ilutching's History of Dorset (vol. i, p. 468) is the following ac- 
count of the parish of Wambrook : "This little village, now a distinct 
parish, was anciently part of Chadstock, from which it lies about tAVO 
miles north, on the very borders of the county, adjoining Somcrsctsliire. 
A family of the Perceys were its lords. It afterwards came to the 
Filiols, of Woodlands, who held it from the ;kl year of the reign of Henrj' 
V. to the IDth year of Henry VIII. In the 2-2d of Henry VIII., on the 
j)artition of Sir William Filiol's property, this manor was assigned to Sir 
Edward Kymer ; after this it passed to several private persons or owners. 
In 1645, ]Mr. Humphrey Coffin, recusant, had his old rents here, and his 
lands, valued in IGil, at £80 per annum, sequestered. In 1(345, Mr. John 
Coffin's term here, A'alued at £45 per annum was sequestered." 

In the war between Charles I. and the Parlianient, Dorsetshire sided 
■with the King, but was too weak to atlbrd etfectual aid. Our great 
ancestor, Tristram Coftyn, also held estates in Dorsetshire which were- 



12 THE COFFIN FA^IILY. 

-fe'equcstercd, during that same period of uncertain tenures in England. 
Of the parish of Alwington and the manor of Alwington, of AlAvington 
House, and Portledge, a great deal has been written concerning, and 
much confusion arisen as to the real character of tliese places. It is 
proi)er to state that Portledge is a seat in the parish of Alwington, near 
the borough of Bideford, in North Devon, bordering upon Barnstaple Bay. 
Alwington parish, in 1S76, had a population of o5o ; Bideford, a popuhi- 
tion of (3,9()9. Bideford is the great business centre of that locality, once 
a seaport of some consequence, and the post town, Portledge, lying only 
four miles away in a westerly direction. Charles Kingsley, in his 
" Westward Ho ! ■" a romance of the " Voyages and Adventures of Sir 
Amyas Leigh, Knight of Burrough, in the County of Devon, in the reign 
of {.iueen Elizabeth," with graphic power of description, thus writes of 
this ancient borough: "All who have travelled through the delicious 
■scenery of North Devon must needs know the little wliite town of Bide- 
ford, which slopes upward from its broad tide-river paved witli yellow 
sands and many-arched old ]>ridge where salmon wait for autumn Hoods, 
toward the pleasant upland on the west. Above the town the hills close 
in, cushioned with deep oak woods, through which juts here and there a 
.crag of ferii-fringed slate ; below they lower, and open more and more 
in softly-rounded knolls, and fertile squares of red and green, till they 
sink into the wide expanse of hazy flats, rich salt marshes, and rolling 
sand-hills, where Torridge joins her sister Taw, and both together tlow 
quietly toward the broad surges of the bar, and the everlasting thunder 
of the long Atlantic SAvell. Pleasantly the old town stands there, ])eneath 
its soft Italian sky, fanned day and night by the fresh ocean ])reeze, 
which forbids alike the keen winter frosts, and the fierce thunder heats of 
midland ; and pleasantly it has stood there for now, perhaps, 800 years, 
since the first Orenville, cousin of the Conqueror, returning from the 

■ <;onquest of South Wales, di-ew round him trusty Saxon serfs, and free 
Norse rovers with their golden curls, and dark Silurian Britons from the 

.•Swansea shore, and all the mingled Ijlood which still gives to the sea- 
ward folk of the next county their strength and intellect, and, even in 
these levelling days, their peculiar ])eauty of face and form." 

In this pleasing romance, ]Mr. Kingsley has made prominent among 
its characters the name of Cotliji, as one identitied with the gentle folk of 
North Devon. Portledge is spoken of as the place where lived that most 
protestant justice of the peace, Mr. Coffin ; and as the place where the 
Coffins had lived ever since Noah's flood. It appears that no one, 
"whether writing of fact or tietion, discourses long about Devonshire 
^vithout mentioning the family of Coffin, so thoroughly interwoven is it 
"with the ancient history of Devon. ^ 

Some of these families in ancient times furnished gentlemen with 
•gilded spurs, as well as names to localities. Prince mentions Sir Geolirey 



THE C'OFFIX F.UnLY. 13 

Coffin, of Combo-Coffin, in the day?; of King Henry III. ; and, before that, 
Sir Elias Coffin, of Ingarly, (ali^o called Sir Elias Coffin of Argot,) in the 
daj's of King John of England. Of the tamil}' at Ahvington, from the 
time of Henry I. nnto the age of Edward H., the period of more than. 
200 3'ears, the heir.s, it is claimed, were always called Richard; and wc 
note Sir Richard Coffin, of Ahvington, Knight, in the reign of Henry H. ; 
Sir Richard Coffin, of Ahvington, in the reign of Edward I. ; and Sir 
Richard Coffin, in the days of Henry IV. ; and again, a century after- 
ward, Richard Coffin was high sheriff of Devon, in the second year of 
Henry VIII. Perhaps the most eminently distinguished of the family 
name in England at any period was Sir William Coffin, Knight, in the 
reign of King Henrj' VHI. He was born at Portledge, and was a 
j-ounger brother of the Richard Coffin, who was high sheriff of Devon, 
in the second year of Henry VIH., al)Ove mentioned. He married Lady 
Manors, of Darbyshire, and probably resided with her in Darbyshire, 
as he was chosen knight of that shire in the Parliament which began in 
the 21st year of the reign of Henry VLII. (1529). Though his elder 
brother, Richard, succeeded to the Portledge estate, Sir William Ijecame 
possessed of the manor of East Higginton, in the parish of Berrynarbor, 
in North Devon, some fifteen miles in a northerly direction from Port- 
ledge, and perhaps other estates in Devon, all of which, upon his death, 
dying without issue, he conveyed to his nephew, his eldest brother's son, 
Richard Coffin, of Portledge. Sir William's reputation was not confined 
to Devonshire. His education and accomplishments were such that they 
introduced him with advantage to the Court of Henry VIII., where he 
came to be highly preferred, and accompanied the King as one of the 
eighteen chosen to assist at the tournament held between him and the 
French King before Guisness, in France, A. D. 1.519. This fact sl|ow.s 
that he was a gentleman of courage and expert at feats of arms. 

Of these jousts Camden says, — "They were at first public exercises 
of arms practised by noblemen and gentlemen, but soon became more' 
than mere sports and diversions. They were first introduced A. D. 934, 
and were always managed by their own particular laws. A long time 
and in all parts their practise was continued, to that degree of madness 
and with so great a slaughter of persons of the best quality, especially 
here in England where it was more prominently introduced by Stephen, 
that the Church was forced by seven canons to forbid them with the- 
penalty, ' that whosoever should happen therein to be slain should be 
denied Christian burial,' and under King Henry III. by the advice of 
Parliament it was enacted that the oftenders' estate should be forfeited 
and their children disinherited, yet in contempt of that good law this 
evil and pernicious practise long prevailed." 

Pohvhele's Devonshire states that Sir William Coffin was Master of 
the Horse at the Coronation of Anne Boleyn, in the 2yth j'ear of Henry 



./ 



U TIIE COFFIN F.iillLY. 

Till. (l')M) ; and Avas aftenvard honored with knighthood in the 29th 
year of the same reijrn. He was also one of the o:cntlemcn of tlic Pri-\^' 
Chamber to the same Kin,2:, a place of great reputation and trust, -whose 
office is to wait on the king within doors and without, so long as his 
majesty is on foot, and when the king eats in his Privy Chamber, they 
wait at table and bring in the meat ; they wait also at the reception of am- 
bassadors, and every night two of them lie in the King's Privy Chamber. 
They are forty-eight in number, all knights or esquires of note, whose 
power is great ; for a gentleman of the .Privy Chamber, by the King's 
command, only, without any written commission, is sufficient to arrest a 
Peer of England. These gentlemen Avere not at this time chosen to till 
this office because of their political training and abilities alone, but be- 
cause of their line physical development and noble carriage and expert- 
ness in arms. 

Another incident in the life of Sir William is related both l)y ^Mr. 
Prince and Mr. Polwhele, because it led to an act of Parliament which 
limited the power of priests in demanding mortuarie-s, and gave occasion 
for the contirmation of the observation "that evil manners are often the 
parent of good laws." On his Avay to the Parliament, in 1529, from I)ar-' 
byshire, " Passing by a Church-yard, he saw a multitude of people 
standing idle ; he inquired into the cause thereof: they replied that they 
had brought a corpse thither to ])e buried, but the priest refused to do 
his office, imless they tirst delivered him the poor man's cow, the only 
quick goods he left for a mortuary. Sir William sent for the priest, and 
required him to do his office to the dead. He peremptorily refused unless 
he had his mortuary tirst. Whereupon he caused the priest to be put 
into the poor man's grave, and earth to be thrown in upon him, and as 
he still persisted in his refusal, there was still more earth thrown in, 
until the obstinate priest was either altogether, or well nigh suflbcated. 

" Now thus to handle a priest in those days, Avas a very bold advent- 
ure ; but Sir William Coffin, Avith the favor he had at Court, and the in- 
terest he had in the House, diverted the storm ; and so lively represented 
the mischievous consequences of priests arbitrarily demanding of mortu- 
aries, that the then Parliament, taking it into their serious consideration, 
were pleased to bound that matter ever after, by a particular statute ; 
the preamble Avhereof, Avhich runs thus, seems to intimate as much : 
* Forasnuich as question, ambiguity, and doubt, is chanced and risen, 
upon the order, manner, and form of demanding, reeeiA'ing, and claim- 
ing of mortuaries, otherAvise called corps-presents, as Avell for the great- 
ness and value of the same, Avhich, as hath lately been taken, is thought 
over excessive to the poor })eo{)le, and others of this realm, as also for 
that, &c. : Be it therefore enacted, &c. : First — That no mortuary shall 
be taken of any moveable goods, under the value of ten marks. Sec- 
ondly — That no parson, &c., shall take of any person that, d3'ing, left in 



THE COFFIX F.L^IILY. 15 

moveable ijoods, clearly ivbove his debts paid, above ten marks and 
under thirty pounds, above three shillings and lour pence tor a mortuary, 
in the whole. And for a person dying, or dead, having at the time of his 
death, of the value in moveable goods, of thirty pounds or above, clearly 
above his debts, and under the value of forty pounds, no more shall be 
taken for a mortuary than six shillings and eiglit pence, in the whole. 
And for any person having at the time of his death, of the value, in 
moveable goods, of forty pounds or alx^ve, to any sum whatsoever it be, 
clearly above his debts paid, there shall be no more taken, paid, or de- 
manded, for a mortuary, than ten shillings in the Avhole.' 

"What herein is further observable, it was also enacted, that such 
mortuaries shall be paid, only in such a place where heretofore mortu- 
aries have been used to be paid ; and that those mortuaries be paid only 
in the place of the deceased person's most usual habitation ; and that no 
parson, &c., shall take more than as limited in this Act, under penalty of 
forfeiting every time so much in value, as they shall take above the sum 
limited by this Act, &c. So much for the occasion of this statute ; which 
confirms the observation, that evil manners are often the parent of good 
laws." 

Sir William was also high steward of the manor and liberties of 
Standon, in the county of Hereford, where he resided at the time of his 
death. He bequeathed to his great Master, King Henry VHL, with 
whom he had lived in intimate relations and especial grace and favor, his 
best horses and a cast of his best hawks. He was buried at Standon, in 
the parish church, under a flat stone, on which was sonie time found this 
inscription, as mentioned in Weever's Funeral Monuments, (p. 534) : 

"Here lieth William Coffin, Knight, sometime of the Privy Chamber 
•with his Sovereign Lord, King Henry VIII. ; and Master of the Horse 
unto Queen Anne, the most lawful Wife unto the aforesaid King Henry 
YHI. and High Steward of all the Liberty and Manor of Standon, in the 
county of Hereford, which William deceased the 8th day of December, 
in the Year of our Lord, 1538, the 30th of the reign of King Henry VIII." 

The most that has hitherto been written in America upon the Coffin 
family of England, has been based upon the assumption that all of that 
name in England descended from ancestors of the Portledge family, and, 
consequently, that the American Coffins were also descendants from 
Portledge. There is not, however, the slightest evidence that Portledge 
is the most ancient seat of the Coffins in England. That it has descended 
in a direct line from a very great antiquity, is true ; that it has been the 
abode of gentlemen of culture and learning is notorious ; for Mr. Prince 
tells us that the Richard Coffin who possessed the estate at the time of 
his writing Avas a "right worthy and worshipful gentleman of great 
piety and virtue," that he was especially learned in venerable antiquity, 
and had a noble library which he knew well how to make use of. And 



/ 



16 THE COFFIX FA^MILY. 

in every article upon the Coffins that has fallen under my eye pertaining 
to the antiquity of the family, notwithstanding some of them claim to 
lla^•e been copies from ancient manuscripts, there are unmistakal^le 
marks of having been made up from Mr. Prince's history of the Worthies- 
of Devon. 

The Rev. John Prince wrote his work as other works of that kind 
were written, from material at hand, about A. U. 1G90. He refers to Sir 
AVilliam Pole's jM8S., from which he (piotes. lie had dou])tIess examined 
the MSS. of Portledge, and gathered information from the proprietor, 
who was also a gentleman of literary and antiquarian tastes. He makes^ 
the Portledge family prominent, and, at the time of his writing, it was 
probably the most important family of the name of Coffin in Devonshire, 
as it now is. He says he tlnds a Sir Richard Coffin, of Alwington, 
Knight, as far back as the days of King Henry H., and that the manor of 
Alwington hath been in the name of Coffin from the time of the Norman 
Conquest unto this day ; but he gives us no evidence of that tact by cit- 
ing any deed or document. And, in a recent publication called "The 
JNISS. of J. R. P. Coffin, Esq., at Portledge, N. D.," to which the com- 
piler's name is not appended, although he was the guest of the proprie- 
tor, no such pretention is made. The earliest date to any deed is that of 
1254. This writer did not tind the Saxon deed mentioned l)y Prince as 
having been made near the Conquest, although an interpretation of it is 
given. Westcote's Devonshire (p. 314) says "Allington, Alwington, 
Alwinton, and, in Domesday Book, Hanitine, for by all these names it is 
written, was possessed by David de la liear." "Portledge therein was 
held by one of the name, by the heir of which i-ace it came to the ancient 
and dignous tamily of Coffin, which in former times were of great estate, 
for in the time of Richard I. (llHi)-liy9) I tind Sir Hugo Cottin of Combe 
Coffin; in Henry lU. (1216-1272) Sir (ieoffrey Coffin of the same place." 

Now, if Alwington was recorded in Domesday as the property of 
David de la Rear, and Portledge held l)y one of that name, l)y the heir of 
Avhich it subsequently passed into the family of Coffin, the claim that this 
estate has been possessed by the family of Coffin from the Conquest must 
fail. The Sir Hugo Coffin and Sir (ieoffrey Coffin had nothing to do with 
Portledge. It is as probable that the Coffins who tirst held Portledge 
descended from the Coffins of Combe Coffin, as otherwise ; and yet, the 
earliest family of Coffins may have come over with the Conqueror, or 
before that time, as previously stated. 

Brixton, Avhere Tristram Cotfyn held estates, lies near the southern 
coast of Devonsliire, some forty miles away from Portledge, which lies 
on the northwestern coast ; and there is no evidence that the Portledge 
Coffins ever held property in Brixton. Coml)e Coffin lies sixty miles 
away on the southeastern coast near Dorsetshire. Coffins Well is about 
Hfty miles distant, also on the southeastern coast. Chudleigh, where 



THE COFFIN FA:MILY. 17 

Nicholas Coffln was vicar of the Church in 1337, lies forty miles awaj'. 
These distaueos are iuaio'iiitioant now, but, with the means of transit in 
the time of the lirst William, ami all the later kings down to the intro- 
duction of steam, they are quite signilicant. 

Polwhele (vi, p. 197) says: ''From the time of Vortigern to the 
Norman Conquest and from the Conquest to Edward the First, (127-2-1307) 
we have little to contemplate in the civil and military transactions of 
Devonshire, but revolution, massacre, and disorder." And, from the 
time of Edward I. to Charles I., it cannot be said that England enjoyed 
any long period of domestic tranquility, and Devonshire was subject to 
many turmoils and convulsions. It was upon the southern coast of 
Devonshire that the principal conflicts were waged. It was from this 
part of the country that such men as Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter 
Raleigh were reared. Portledge stood to the north away from the scenes 
ot revolution and pillage, and the fact that its tenures have not been dis- 
turbed for six centuries or more, and its records preserved through so 
long a period of time, is sufficient for the inferential conclusion that its 
favored locality alone saved it to the family, through all the vicissitudes 
of the frequently recurring insurrections and invasions that menaced 
and devastated the southern parts of Devon. 

The civil wars between the houses of York and Lancaster, which for 
more than half a century, commencing in the reign of Henry VI., 
deluged England in blood, wrought great changes in the estates of 
Devonshire. And again, during the religious throes which character- 
ized the several reigns from Ilenrv VIII. to Charles I., the dissolution of 
religious houses, and the spoliation of Abbey lauds ; together with the 
restoration of the old order of things under the ('atholics, all wrought 
disorder in Devonshire ; and, while some of the Coffins — notably those 
from Portledge — realized great advantages in the time of Henry VIII., 
it is probable that others suflered persecution and xierhaps martyrdom. 

While many have searched for the pedigree of our ancestor, Tristram 
Coftyn, among the records of Devonshire, no one has yet been able to 
trace his pedigree beyond that of his grandfather, Nicholas ColTjm. Ad- 
miral Sir Isaac Coffin, Bart., in memorializing the College of Arms, in 
1804, for the grant of a Coat of Arms, represented that he was bj' tradi- 
tion descended from the family of Coffin of the Avcst of England, but 
that he was unable to ascertain his descent. I have taith, however, that 
the proper investigation of the matter will sometime reveal to us Tris- 
ti'am's true pedigree extending much fuither back ; and that what is 
now unknown will prove as honorable as that which Ave now know 
with reasonable certaintj-. 

Tristram Coftyn, of Butler's, parish of Brixton, county of Devon, 
England, made his will November 10, IGOl, which was proved at Tot- 
ness, in the same county, iu 1G02. He left legacies to Joan, Anne, and 

Al 



18 THE COFFIN FA^IILY. 

John, chiklren of Nicholas Coffyn; Kichard and Joan, children of Lionel 
Cottyn ; Thilip Cotlyn and hi.s son Tristram ; anil appointed Nicholas, 
son of Nicholas Cotfyn, his executor. He was probably the great uncle 
of the first of the race in America. 

Nicholas Cotfyn, of Brixton (one account says Butler's Parish) , iu 
Devonshire, in his Avill, dated September 12, 1613, and proved November 
3, IGl;'), mentions his wife, Joan, and sojis Peter, Nicholas, Tristram, 
John, and dau2,liter Anne. He was the f>Tandfather of the emigrant to 
^c^f England. 

■X Peter Cotfyn, of Brixton, in his will, dated December 1, 1627, and 
proved ^Farch lo, 1628, provides that his Avife, Joan (Thember) shall 
have possession of the laud during her life, and then the said property 
shall go to his son and heir, Tristram, " Avho is to be provided for ac- 
cording to his degree and calling." His son John is to have certaia 
property when he Ijecomes 20 years of age. He mentions his daughters 
Joan, De])oraa, Eunice and ^Mary, and refers to his tenement in Butler's 
Parish called Silferhay. lie was the father of the euiigrant. 

John Colfyu, of Brixton, an uncle of the emigrant, who died without 
issue, in his will, dated January 4, 1628, and proved April 3, 1628, ap- 
points his nephew, Tristram Cotfyn, his executor, and gives legacies to 
all of Tristram's sisters, all under 12 years of age. 

^_ Nicholas Cotlyn, the grandfather of Tristram, was probably born, 
about the middle of the sixteenth century, in the reign of Edward VI. 
(1550). He lived to the end of the reign of the Tudors, and saw the 
reign of the Stuarts commenced in the person of James VI. of Scotland 
and I. of ^^ngland. He died in the reign of James I. (1613). His eldest 
son, Peter, doubtless succeeded to his estates ; and his youngest son, 
John, acquired some estate, as he made our Tristram his executor. The 
other sons, Nicholas and Tristram, have not been accounted for, neither 
has his daughter Anne. 

^Peter Coftyn, the father of Tristram, must have been born during' 
the reign of Queen Elizabeth, about the year 1580. He died about the 
close of the year 1627 or early in the year 1628. At present we know of 
but little more of Tristram's father than we do of his grandfather, save 
that he married Joan 1'hember (or Thumber) and had two sons and four 
daughters, of whom Tristram was the eldest, the other son, John, hav- 
ing died in Plymouth Fort, England, after receiving a mortal Avound. 

Tristram Cotlyn Avas born at Brixton, near Plymouth, county of 
DcA'OJi, England, during the reign of James I., in the year 1605, as 
previously stated. He married Dionis Stevens, daughter of Robert 
Stevens, Esq., of Brixton, about the year 1630. The particular causes 
or circuuistances Avhich induced his emigration to America haA'c been a 
subject of profound study. aud mature deliberation. If Ave look at the 
contemporaneous history of England we shall find that the time Avhich 



THE COFFIN F.OIILY. 19 

covers Trir^tram's mature life in England, about tiftcen years, marks a 
most eventful period — the moment Avhen intellectual freedom was 
claimed unconditionally Ij.y Enijlishmcn as an inalienable riifht, and 
when ecclesiastical forms were not spared by the revolutions of the time. 

James I., whose rei^n had been adorned by Shakespeare aiul Bacon, 
died in 1(525, when Tristram was 20 years old. Charles I. had been upon 
the Throne but two years when Tristram's father died. The Petition of 
Right, in 1G28, sought to limit the powers of the Crown, and the King 
soon after abolished the Parliament and established the Star Chamber. 
Puritanism Avas making rapid strides, and largo numbers of Puritans 
w^ere leaving England. So great Avas the exodiis that the King prohib- 
ited their departure, and Hampden, Pym, and CroniAvell Avere prcA'cnted 
from leaAing. About this time the Duke of Buckino-ham Avas assassi- 
nated. In 1638 the Scotts, to maintain their ecclesiastical rights, took 
up arms against the King, haA'ing framed the celebrated Solemn League 
and Covenant, and sustained the Parliament in its opposition to Charles. 
The Earl of Straftbrd and the Archbishop of Canterbury, as chief ad- 
visers of the King, Avere impeached and beheaded (the former in 1(341, 
and the latter in 1(54:4). The Presbyterians, who Avere uoav a majority in 
the Commons, procured the exclusion of the Bishops from the House of 
Lords, in 1G41, Avhich Avas followed by an act, in 1G4;), entirely abolishing 
Ihe Episcopacy, so that Charles began to realize that Avithout Bisliops 
there Avould be no King. Under these circumstances the Lont!:.-,Parlia- 
ment couA'cned. 

The irrepressible conflict betAveen Charles I. and the Parliament 
came to a crisis in 1G42, and in August of that year the royal standard 
was raised at Xottingham. The King Avas generally supported by the 
nobility, the landed gentrj^ the High Church party, and the Catholics ; 
and the Parliament Avas sustained ])y the mercantile and middle classes 
and the loAVcr order of the great toAvns. 

Tristram Cotfyn Avas of the landed gentry. Most proba])ty he Avas a 
Chxirchman after the order of Elizabeth's time. Conformably to his 
father's Avill he Avas to be provided for " according to his degree and 
calling." He must, therefore, haA'e had a calling — a profession. He may 
haA'e taken holy orders or practiced at Exeter ii/'.si 2f>'i>">', (althoiigh there 
appears but little in his life at Xantucket to Avarrant the belief that he 
CA'er pretended to anjihing more than plain ]\Iister Tristram Coffyn). 
Yet it does appear that the A^ery year of the appeal to arms, 1G42, after 
the conflict had been Avaged, Tristram Cottyn, at the age of ;57, left all of 
his comfortable estates in Old England and embarked for America, 
bringing Avith him his Avife and five small children, his mother, then 
aged 58 years, and tAVO unmarried sisters, ;uid none of theni e\'cr re- 
tiirned. 






20 THE COFFIN FAMILY. 

The question will occur au-iiiu and a.aaiu to the minds of the thought- 
ful, Wliy did 'I'ristrani CoffN'u leave Eniiland at this particular time, and 
in what ship did he embark? Upon these subjects he has lett no record 
and the oracles are silent. It is difhcult to conceive how a man of his 
positive character could have lived in South Devon, during the stormy 
times of Charles I., and not have taken some part in the fierce conflicts 
which ensued. lie must have had convictions, and he probably did not 
conceal them. If ho was. of the Parliament party it would be hard to 
divine the motive that prompted his emigration just at the time when 
that partj' Avas successful and gaining strength and power. And if of 
the King's party, why he should ha^'e abandoned a failing cause, with 
his tenacity of opinion. There are several versions of the cause of his 
emigration. One is to the eftect that Colonel Tristram Coft'yn was Gov- 
ernor of Plymouth, and in command of Plymouth Fort, after it fell into 
the possession of the Parliament party; and, upon the restoration of 
Charles II., expecting nothing but persecution from that monarch, he 
resigned command of the Citadel and end)arked for America. ' This 
statement cannot be true in any particular, Ijecause he arrived in 
America in 1()42, and C'harles II. did not return to England till 1660. 
Another version is that, being Governor of Plymouth, and in command 
of the Fort, upon finding he could not longer hold the Citadel against the 
Parliament forces, prepared a vessel and embarked for America with his 
family. ^ This last statement although more probable, is ecpially un- 
founded in fact ; for there woiild have remained some history of the fact 
if he had ever been Governor of Plymouth, or commanded the Fort. 

It must ))e Ijorne in mind that Plymouth fell into the power of the 
Parliament at the very commencement of the civil war, and, though long 
besieged and blockaded by the King's forces, was never reduced to his 
control. It must also be remembered that Tristram's only lu'other, John 
Coftyn, was mortally Avounded at Plymouth Fort, and died eight days 
thereafter. Upon which side John Cofiyn Avas enlisted Ave have no certain 
evidence, and the exact date of his death is not knoAvn. I assume that, 
being a younger son, he entered the military service of his country and 
accepted duty at Plymouth Fort, under Charles I. In Avhat capacity it 
is not material, l)ut most prol)ably in a subordinate one ; for, if he had 
been GoA'ernor of Plymouth, or in command of the Fort, that fact Avould 
have survi\ed the historic demolitioii of that eventful period. John 
Cofiyn most likely fell in defense of the royal standard, and, if so, he 
died at the commencement of the civil Avar. 

Tristram Cofiyn, as heir of his father's estates at IJrixton, Avithin 
about five miles of Plymouth, found himself established among the 
landed gentry-, Avhose interests and sympathies Avere genci-ally Avith the 
royal party. I assume, therefore, that Ti'istram Avas a i-oyalist, Avithout 
dissimulation. The family characteristics could no more be disguised in 



THE COFFIN FA:\IILY. 21 

him in En.ijliinrt than in Xautiickct. lie stood for what ho waj^ ; and, 
when riynionth, in 1()-1:2, fell under the control of the Parliiunent party, 
to stand for the royal cause at Brixton, • almost within range of the 
cannon at Plymouth Fort, required courage, particularly after his only 
brother had fallen in defense of that cause. Yet he stood faithful to his 
convictions of right and loyal to the King. He was at this time in the 
prime of early manhood, just the proper age to have become enamored 
of the knightly bearings of the Cavaliers. But, while he adhered to the 
ro3'al cause Avith tidclity and zeal, and was iinquestionaljly a Cavalier, in 
contradistinction from the Roundheads, I cannot conclude, estimating 
him by his life in Nantucket, that he ever took any delight in horse 
soldiers or their decorations, although every inch a knight in the truest 
and most chivalric sense. 

Considering the eventful period of his life immediately following the 
death of his father, which probably occurred early in 16-28, when he had 
but attained his tvv'enty-third year, it is easy to perceive how the pei'- 
plexing complications of the King and the Parliament, gave him little 
peace of mind or enjoyment of his estate. The whole kingdom, in 1642, 
exhibited a most melancholy spectacle. Each county, town, and hamlet, 
was divided into factions seeking the ruin of each other. The two great 
iirmies plundered wherever they came, and their example was faithfully 
copied by smaller bodies of armed men. Every person was compelled 
to contribute after a certain rate to the support of that cause which 
obtained the sux)eriority in his neighborhood. While the royalists 
triimaphed in the northern counties, on the southern coast the superiority 
of the Parliament party was eqmiUy decisive. 

It will be asked How could Tristram Coftyn, a royalist, leave Brix- 
ton, at a time when Plymouth and the Avhole southern coast was con- 
trolled by Parliament forces? And, if there had not been a pacitic feel- 
ing among neigh]>ors and an interruption of hostilities in Devon at this 
time, it could not have happened. But Lingard, in his History of Eng- 
land (v. 10, p. 120), states that there were four counties, " those of York, 
Chester, Devon, and Cormvall, in which the leaders had already learned 
to abhor the evils of civil dissention. They met on both sides and 
entered into engagements to suspend their political animosities, to aid 
each other in putting down the disturbers of the public peace, and to 
oppose the introduction of any armed force, without the joint consent of 
both the King and the Parliament." This period of i)acitic intercourse 
which sul^setiuently became a.ssociated in other counties, took place in 
Devon, in 1642 ; and, under its operation, emigration to America ofiercd 
a proper solution of the proldcms that had perplexed the mature life of 
Tristram Cotlyn in England. What to him were lands and tenements, 
rents and revenues, — under the tyranny of a King which in levying sliip- 
, money made all estates insecure, or tmder the sway of a Parliament 



22 TIIE COFFIN FAJSHLY. 

which exacted a contribution of ono-twentieth part of the estate for the 
support of an army, where hiiman life was always insecure, no matter 
wliich party succeeded, — to the unconditional liberty of body and soul 
wliich tlie wilderness of America oftered. Saddened by the early decease 
of an only Ijrothcr in a cause, which, if successful, oftered nothing l)ut 
oppression; siclccned of the continual revohition and anarchy which 
surrounded his earlj- home, he quietly quitted his otherwise ample and 
comfortable estates in the Old World, and sought a liome midst the hardy 
Pilgrim settlers of the Xew. It was his utter want of faith in the insti- 
tutions of England that sent him across the ocean witli a wife and live 
Somali children, a widowed mother and two unmarried dependant sisters, 
to found a new home among the Ijarrcn hills of Xew England. While 
he could not bring his landed estates, he doubtless did not come penni- 
less. 

Admiral Henry E. C'ottin, K. X., in his correspondence with jNIr. 
William E. Coftin, of Kichmond, Ind., states that Tristram Cotfyn's estate 
at Brixton, upon the Ivestoration. was given l)y ('harles II. to his bastard 
son who Avas called Batard, and that the property lias been held in that 
family to this day. He also mentions the property at Butler's, as having 
Tccentlj' been sold. 

Now, in wliat ship did Tristram Coffyn come to America? Of the 
identity of the ship there is certainly much doul^t. But it is generally 
conceded tliat he came in tlie ship with Ivo])ert Clement, who settled in 
Hayerliill, and that Tristram ftrst went to Salisbury'. A descendant of 
Eol^ert Clement, as I am informed by letter of Robert Cotlin, of Iloboken, 
N. J., to William E. Coffin, of Kichmond, Ind., states that the ships wl\ich 
arrived in 1(>42, owned l:)y Robert Clement, in which lie might have come, 
were the " Hector," " Griftin," " Job Clement," and " JMargaret Clement." 
And so, if Robert Clement arrived in one of tliese ships, the same must 
be true of Tristram Ccjftyn. 

It appears that he did not aft'ect a permanent settlement at Salisbury, 
but removed the same year to the new settlement of Pentucket, soon 
aftei'Avard called Haverhill. This settlement was commenced in 1G4(), 
Cliristopher Ilussey being among the first settlers, but no deed from tlie 
Indians was obtained until l()4:-i, when the name of Tristram Coftyn ap- 
pears as one of tlie witnesses tliereto. It was first recorded in tlie count}' 
records of Norfolk, (lil). 2, p. 209) ; and, in l.s;]2, the original deed was 
said to be in the possession of Charles White, Esi^. As it is the first 
appearance of the name of Tristram Coftyn ui)ou any document in 
America, I make a copy of it from the History of Haverhill by B. L. 
^lirick. The marks made b}' the Indian sachems were representations 
of the l)o\v and arrow : 

" Know iill nu'u by these presents, that wee Passaquoaud Saggallewvrtli 
ye couseut of Passacouaway ; liave sold unto y-' inhabitants of Peutuckett 



TIIE COFFIN FA]VnLY. 23 

all ye lands wee have iu Pentuckett ; that is eyght myles in length from 
ye little Kivver in Pentuckett Westward : Six myles in length frome y« afore- 
said Rivver northward : And six myles in length from ye foresaid llivver 
Eastward, wtii ye lleand and ye rivver that ye ileand stand in as far in length 
as ye land lyes by as formerly expressed : that is, fonrteene myles in length : 
And wee yc" said'Passaqno and Saggallew wth ye consent of Passaconnaway, 
have sold unto v© said inhabitants all ye right that wee or any of us have in. 
ye said ground and Ileand and Kivver : And wee warrant it against all or 
any other Indeans whatsoever unto ye said Inhabitants of Pentuckett, and to 
their heires and assignes forever Dated ye fifteenth day of november Ann 
Dom 1642. 

Witnes our hands and seales to this bargayne of sale ye day and year 
above written (iu ye presents of us.) we ye said Passaquo & Saggallew have 
received in hand, "for & iu cousideratiou of ye same three pounds & ten 
shillings : 

John Ward T marke of 

Bohert Clements Passaquo ^ [seal.] 

Tristram Coffyn 
Hugh Sherrntt 

William White 

ye si^Tie of {[) je marko of 

Thomas Davis 

SaGGAHEW. V [SEAL.] 

Tristram Coflfyu settled iu Haverhill near Robert Clement, and tradi- ' 
tion says he was the tirst person who plouofhed land in that town, con- 
gtrueting- his own plouo-h. The following year he settled at the llocks, 
so called. lie resided in Haverhill several years, when he removed to 
Newbniy (1648-9), and thence to Salisbury (1054-5), where he organized 
the company for the purchase and settlement of Xantnckct. 

From the History of Newbnry, by Joshua Coffin, Esq., the following 

extracts are made : 

1644—" Tristram Coffyn is allowed to keep an ordinary, sell wine, and 
keep a ferrv on Newbury side, and George Carr on Salisbury side of Carr's 
Island." (p'. 43.) 

<' Dec. 26, 1647— Tristram Coffin (sen) is allowed to keep an ordinary 
and retavie wine, paying according to order, and also granted liberty to keep 
a ferry a"t Newbury side. This ferry crossed the Merrimack River at Carr's 
Island, George Carr keeping the Salisbury side and Tristram Coffin, sen, the 
Newbury side." (p. 49.) 

"16.53. September— Tristram Coffyu's wife, Dionis, was presented for 
selling beer at his ordinary, iu Newbury, for three pence a quart. Having 
proved, upon the testimony of Samuel Mooers, that she put six bushels of 
malt into the hogshead she was discharged." (p. 57.) 



21 THE COFFIN FA^IILY. 

The law which she was supposed to have violated was passed in 1645, 

and is as follows : 

" Every person liceused to keep au ordiiiar}', shall always be provided 
with good wholesome beer of four bushels of malt to the hogshead, which 
he shall not sell aboce two pence the ale quart, on penalty of tort}' shillings 
the first ofleuce and for the second ofl'euce shall lose his license." 

It must 1)0 remembered that this presentment was during the 
same period that women were presented for wearino; silk hoods and 
scarfs and other trifling matters of dress, which were in violation of the 
abortive attempt to regulate the fashions of the people. Dio)iis doubt- 
less intended to make a better beer than was atibrded at otlier ordinaries ; 
and as three pence per quart bore the same relation to six bushels of 
malt, as two pence per quart did to four bushels, she could see no reason 
why her beer should not sell for three pence per quart notwithstanding 
the law. Proof of this fact secured her discharge, and tlaerc can be 
little doubt that her beer gained a good reputation from this proceeding, 
and Cotfyn's ordinary became distinguished as the place where the best 
beer was sold. It will be thus noticed that Goodwife Coffyn had to bear 
her share of the public as well as the domestic burdens of her time. 
And this fact alone is sutticient to show that she was a faithful helpmeet, 
fitted for the maternity of an honorable race. For we cannot contem- 
plate the dignity and moral grandeur attained by every one of the chil- 
dren she bore, wliich grew to the estate of maturity, nor consider the 
high places of distinction most of tliem were called to fill, nor the 
wreathes of honor which in their lifetimes, environed them, without be- 
coming sensibly impressed witli the truth that most great personages 
' have rejoiced in good mothers. Although her name was not, like that 
of her daughter's, Mary Starbuck, associated with the public aftairs of 
aSTantucket, she was undoubtedly a woman of good judgment, and coun- 
selled with her husband in the discharge of the duties that devolved 
upon him in the various positions of trust which he filled. The time of 
her birth is not known, neither is the period of her death definitely 
fixed, but she survived her husband, as the probate records show. 

The name Dionis is the diminutive of Dionysia, and was often writ- 
ten Dionys, although 1 cannot fiiul that she was ever known or called in 
America by any other name than Dionis. It so ai)pears in the records of 
Newbury and llaverliill ; and in every deed of conveyance recorded in 
Nantucket, in which she joined her husband, it is the same. Also in tlie 
probate proceedings after the death of her husband she is there named 
as Dionis. It is quite remarka1)le that, while the name of Tristram has- 
been perpetuated through all the generations, and in genealogical re- 
searches becomes a source of confusion it occurs so often, the name of 
Dionis is repeated but once in all the generations down to the present 
time. One grandcliild only, the eldest daughter of Stephen Coffin, 



THE COFFIX FAMILY. 25 

youngest child of Tri.strara and Dionis, was christened Dionis, but Avhcn 
she came to be married to Jacol) Norton, the name appears as Dinah. 
It n:ia3' be also stated that .Tames C'othn had a daughter Dinah who mar- 
ried Nathaniel Starbuek, Jr. 

So it may be said that the wife of Tristram Coffyn possessed a name 
that disappeared with her life, and has remained obsolete for two centu- 
ries. Yet it shall live again. In contemplating this fact I am reminded 
of the beautiful le^^end of Saint Humbert : After tliat good saint had 
been dead just a hundred j'cars, as the story goes, his sarcophagus Avas 
opened and a sprig of laurel that had lain in burial with him during the 
whole century was taken from his ashes in as perfect green as if newly 
plucked, and fresh as if wet with the morning's dew. When the maternal 
progenitor of Clan Coffin was laid away to mingk* with the cold clods of 
the vallej^ her laurels may liave ])een buried with lier. But as sure as 
eternal justice will triumi>h in the end — as sure as the white rose Avill 
bloom anew with every returning season, so surely will the hand of im- 
partial history penetrate the- dark portals of the tomb and lift her laurels 
to a glorious resurrection to bloom again green and perennial before the 
Avorld, ere another century shall have been mtmbered Avith the two pre- 
ceding ones of indifterence and ol)livion. If her name and memory be 
not immortalized by a hgure of bronze, her life and character shall grow 
in the righteous estimation of her numerous descendants, till no marble 
or alabaster shall be found pure and Avhite enough on which to inscribe 
her name. 

After Tristram returned to Salisbury from NcAvbury he signed his 
name to some documents as commissioner of Salisbury. It Avas Avliile a 
citizen of Salisbury that the plan for })urchasing the island of Nantucket 
Avas conceiA'cd, and carried into practical operation. 

It has been generally belicA'ed that Tristram Coffyn and his associ- 
ates remoA'ed to Nantucket to escape religious persecution; and that 
Thomas Macy, Avho hrst removed his lamily hither, tied from the officers 
of the laAV, sacriticing his property and his home, rather than submit to 
the tyranny Avhich punished a man for ])eing hospitable to strangers iy a 
rain storm, even though the strangers Avere Quakers. Our gifted poet 
Wliittier has made this stor}' almost immortal ])y his tine rendering of 
the supposed flight in a truly ])eautiful poem. But I must say that Avhile 
his Aversion of tlic affair is poetically sitblime, it is historically untrue. 
'Obed ^Macy's History of Nantucket indulges in this same erroneous state- 
ment, drawing conclusions therefrom, Avhich, of course, are ecpmlly 
unfounded. 

Thomas Mayhew w;is a resident of WatertOAVn, before removing to 
Martha's Vineyard, and Avas a deputy of the General Court from thAt 
place. Thomas Macy Avas a deputy to the General Court from Salisbuiy 
iu 16oi. MayhcAv's deed of the island of Nantucket from Jamea 



26 THE COFFIN FAMILY. 

FfoiTctt, was obtained in 1641, but he did not remove to Martina's Vino- 
yard for iseveral years afterward. It is pro])able tliat an acquaintance 
was formed between ^Nlayliew and ^lacy, and Tristram Cotfyn (altliouijli 
I nowhere lind that Tristram Cotfyn was ever a member of the General 
Court from either of the towns in which he previously. resided), and that 
Mayhew, desii-ous of settlina' the island and improviu,2: it, offered it for 
sale upon such terms, as will be seen by tlie consideration mentioned in 
the deed (£30 and two beaver hats), as seemed to offer opportunities for 
agriculture and stock raising not possible to obtain among the small 
settlements upon the continent, fencing being then as now a necessary 
expense in pursuing either occupation, and very scarce. And the very 
plan adopted on the island of Nantucket, of dividing and apportioning 
the land into commons of pasture and tillage was attempted at Newbury, 
in 1642, as the historian of Newl:)ury, Joshua Coffin, states, from evidence 
found in Tristram Cotfyn's manuscript. In his correspondence with 
Governor Lovelace, Thomas Maey makes allusion to Mr. Mayhew as his 
honored cousin. 

The deed of Mayhew to the first purchasers bears date July 2, 1659, 
which was then the 5th month according to the old style, and the pur- 
chase was actually made as early as February of the same year, while 
the letter or answer of Thomas Macy to the Court respecting the offence 
with which he was charged of harboring Quakers, bears date 27th of 8th 
month, 1651), long after the i)urchase of the island had been consum- 
mated and the deed passed. And the said letter of ]Mr. IVIacy proves 
that he had never seen the men before, except one ; that he did not in- 
quire tlieir names ; and, perceiving thej' were Quakers, desired them to 
pass on, lest he might give offence by entertaining them ; and assuring 
the Court that he had not willingly offended. Then, again, Avhile the 
penalty for entertaining one of the people called Quakers, Avas a fine of 
£5 for every hour during which the Quaker was so entertained, the 
Court, considering the letter of ISlr. INIacy as a plea of guilty, imposed a 
nominal fine of only 30 shillings, showing that the Court did not con- 
sider the law hnt technically violated. It is also a matter of record that 
Thomas Macy went l^ack to Salisbury and resided there in 1664, as the 
tblh^wing extracts of a letter to a gentleman in Nantucket, Avritten by 
Joshua Coffin, Esq., the historian, in 1831, Avill abundantly show: 

"Thomas Macy was a merchant, an enli<>htened man. and much too wise 
to apprehend any danger to his person or property from any person or pei'- 
sons, cither legally or illegally. The utmost tlic law could do was to fine 
him £4, and this sum could be mitigated according to circumstances. This 
was actually the case with all those who were fined for 'entertaining Quak- 
ers,' at the time Thomas Macy was fined, lie stands the lowest on the list, 
as you will find by examining the Colony records. It is there stated, Thomas 
Macy is fined lOs' for, >.<:c. The idea that his property was forfeited, is not 
correct. ■ It will, perhaps, be new to some people, to know that Thomas 



Tim COFFIN FAMILY. 27 

Macy Avent back from Nantucket ami lived in SalislDury again, and soid his 
land, lioiise, ^^c. Tlie roconl says, 'Tlioniar; Macy sold unto Anthony Colby, 
the house in which he, Thomas Macy, dirclhth at the ■present, together with 
barne and so much laud as the garden conteyneth on a straight line to the 
eastermost corner.of Koger Eastman's barne, >!tc. — See Kegistry of Deeds 
l(»t!4r, for in that year he lived in Salisbury. Thomas IMacy never had 1000 
acres of land in Salisbury. The Salisbury records state that every man 
worth £")0 or less, shall have 4 acres of planting ground; 8 acres for £100, 
and so on, 4 acres for every £.50. With the planting laud, each settler had 
about double the quantity of Salt Marsh,^ &c. * * * * Macy was cer- 
tainly a man of fortitude, courage, good sense, and education. 

"James Collin was one of the first settlers on the island in ',"9 or '00, but 
he was in Dover in IGOS, and was a member of that church iu 1G71, and after 
that went back to Nantucket." 

These foots are introduced for the purpose of disabusing tlie minds^ 
of people familiar with the general history of Xantueket and its early 
settlers. ])ee:uise it has gone into history and been generally accepted as 
true that the early settlers came to Nantucket because of religious per- 
secution. And as this impression i.s entirely erroneous, it is important 
that the descendants of Tristram Colly n, as well as the- descendants of 
each of tlie other early settlers of Nantucket, should know that the tirst 
emigrations hither were purely and simply in the interest of improved 
homes, upon an agricultural and stock-raising basis. Neither was the 
island during its earliest years of white occupation that elysium which 
has been represented. The fathers of Nantucket did not all dwell 
together iu unity and peace. There were local dissensions which in- 
creased witli the increase of numbers, and disturbed the quietude of 
many homes. But, compared "with the difficulties which atflicted manj^ 
parts of New England, the oppressive spirit of the law^s, the intolerance- 
of religious views, the prohibitions of dress, atTd the Indian warfares, 
Nantucket was indeed blessed with "plenty's golden sniile,'" and "a 
refuge of the free." 

Early in 1<');V.), according to Benjamin Franklin Folger, the most re- 
liable genealogist of Nantucket, Tristram Coflyn proceeded upon a 
voyage of iiKpiiry and observation, tirst to Martha's Vineyard, ■where he 
took Peter Folger, the grandfather of Dr. Benjamin Franklin, as an in- 
terpreter of the Indian language, and thence to Nantucket, his object 
being to ascertain the teniper and disposition of the Indians, and the 
capabilities of the island, that he might report to the citizens of Salis- 
bury what inducements for emigration thither were ottered. I have dis- 
covered no evidence of the names of tlie others who accompanied him 
from Salisbuiy, but it is certain that he had others to assist in managing 
the boat, and A'ciy prol)ably some of his sons, as it is a tradition, if 
nothing better, that James Coffin, then about 1!) years old, accompanied 
Thomas ^lacy aiul family, Edward Starbuck, and Isaac Coleman, later 
iu the same year, when they took up their residences upon the island. 



28 THE COFFIX FA:\riLY. 

Tristram's intercourse Avith the ludiiins was frank and kind, and they 
extended to him a Avarm welcome. His relations with the Indians ever 
thereafter inspired thenr with contidencc in his dealings as chief magis- 
trate, and very little ditticulty ever existed between t]ie whites and the 
natives, a fact which Avas largely owing to the infusion of his liberal, 
high-minded and christian character into the practical concerns of life 
among the Indians, for it is recorded that there Avere some three thou- 
sand Indians upon the island Avhen the white settlers made their abode 
among them, although I think that number an exaggeration. 

At Martha's Vineyard he entered into preliminary negotiations Avith 
Thomas MayhcAV for the purchase of the island, before visiting it, and 
after his A'isit to the island, he made additional ai'rangements for its 
purchase, and returned to Salisbury, where his report upon the condi- 
tion of tlie island, the character of the Indians, and the advantages of ii 
change of r<.jsidcnce thither, Avas duly laid before his friends and associ- 
ates. A company Avas organized for the immediate purchase of the 
whole island, alloAving Thomas ]MayheAV to retain a one-tenth portion 
thereof, Avith s'ome other reserA'ations. SeA-eral meetings of the piir- 
chasers appear to haA'e Ijeen held at Salisbury, in the summer of IG'/J, 
and general rules and regulations, for the government of the island Avere 
adopted, as the folloAving extracts from the records made at Salisbuiy 
will shoAV : 

Jnlij 2(1, 1059. — These people after mentioned did buy all right and enter- 
est of the Island of Nantucket that did belong to Sr Ferdinand'o George and 
the Lord Sterling, Mr. llicluird Vinet, Steward, Gentleman to Sir Ferdinando 
George, and Mr. James Ferrett, Steward to Lord Sterling, which Avas by 
them sold unto Mr. Thomas Mayhew, of Martbers Vincward ; these after 
mentioned did purclias of :\Ir. Thomas Mayhew these Kiglits : namely, the 
pattent llight belonging to the Gentleman aforesaid ; and also the piece of 
Laud Avhich Mr. jMayhew did purchass of the Indians at the Avest end of the 
Island of J>Jantucket as by their grant or bill of sale, will largely appear with 
all the privileges and appurtenances thereof; the aforementioned Purchasers 
are Tristram Cotlln, Senyi'. Thomas Macy, Ilichard Swain, Thomas Barnard, 
Peter Coffin, Christopher* Hussey, Stephen Greenleaf, John Swain, William 
rile; .the said Mr. Thomas Mayh(?w himself also becom a Twentieth part 
purshaser so that they, vizt : Mr. Thomas Mayhew, Tristram Coffin, Sinr., 
Thomas Macy, liichard Swain, Thomas Barnard, Peter CotRn, Christopher 
Hussey, Stephen Greenleaf, John Swain, William Pile had the whole and 
Sole Interest, Disposell, power, and privilege of said Island and appurte- 
nances thereof. 

At Salysburij, February, 1G59. — At a meeting of the purchasers or tlie 
major part of them appeared alowed by the rest together Avith some others 
that Avas owned for Ass'iates as will hereafter appear — it Avas agreed and De- 
termined and approvd as foUoAVS, A'izt : that the ten owners Avill admitt of Ten 
more partners Avho shall liave equall power and Interest with themselves, and 
that either of the purchasers aforementioned shall have liberty to take a 
partner whome he pleases not being mostly excepted against by the rest. 
At that meeting Ilobcrt Pike was owned partner Avith Christopher Hussey, 
Ilob(!rt Barnard was owned partner Avith Thomas Barnard, Edwed Starbuck 
was oned to be Thomas Macy's partner, and Tristram Coffin, jur., partner Avith 



THE COFFIN FA:\ULY. 29 

Stephen Greeule.af, James Coffin partner with Peter Coffin— at the same meet- 
ing it was mutually and unanimously agreed upon, determined and concluded, 
that no man whats'oever shall purchase any land of any of the Indians upon 
tlie said iland for his own private or particular use; but whatsoever purchas 
shall be made, shall be for the general account of the Twenty owners or pur- 
chasers and whatsoever person shall purchas any Land upon any other ac- 
count, it shall be utterly void and uuU, except what is don by Leve from the 
said Owners or purchasers : at tlie same meeting it was ordered and De- 
termined that there shall be ten other Inhabitants admitted into the Planta- 
tion who shall have such accomodation as the Owners or purchasers shall 
judge meet— as namely necessary tradesman and Seaman. 

At a meeting of these owners of the Island of Nantucket at Salisbury it 
was Debatted, and after debatted, determed and concluded, that as there had 
ben a former meeting in Salisbury at the House of Benjamin Cambell, in 
February, IGoD, in which meeting orders was made for Prohibiting of any 
Person from the purchasing any land from any of the Indians upon the Island 
of Nantucket except for the use of the Twenty owners or purchasers, the 
Order shall stand Inviolable unalterable as that which also as that which is 
likely necessary to the continuance of the well being of the place and the 
Couturary, that which tends to the confusion and Ruiue of the whole and the 
Suverting of the rules and orders allready agreed upon and the depriveing of 
the said owners of there Just rights and Interest. Also it was ordered at 
the same meeting that all the Land that is Jit for areable land convenient for 
House lot shall l)e forthwith measured, that the quantity thereof may be 
known, which being done, shall be divided by equel preportious, that is to say 
Four Fiftlis parts to the owners or purchasers; and the other Fifth unto the 
Ten other Inhabitants, whereof John Bishop shall have tv.'o parts or shares, 
that is to say of that Fifth part belonging to the Ten Inhabitant. Also at 
the same meeting it was ordered that Tristram Coffin, Thomas Macy, Ed- 
ward Starbuck, Thomas Barnard, Peter Folger of Mathers Vineyard, shall 
liave power to measure and lay out said Land according to the above said 
awder, and whatsoever shall be done and concluded in the said Case by or 
auy three of them, Peter Folger being one, shall be accounted Legall and valid. 

3/«!/ the 10th, 16G1. — At a meeting at Salisbury it was ordered and con- 
cluded that the aforementioned parties, vizt : Tristram Coffin, seny., Thomas 
Macy, Edward Starbuck, Thomas Barnard, Peter Folger, shall also measure 
and lay out all the rest of tlie Laud, both meadows, "Woods and upland, that is 
-couvenant to be appropriated within the bounds of the first Plantation ; also 
it is .determined that the above mentioned persons, together with Mr. May- 
hew, Richard Swain, John Bishop, or whatever others of the owners or pur- 
chases that are present, shall have power to Determing what land is con- 
venient to be improved and Laid out, and what should be common or liemaiu 
Common, and also, to Layout the bounds of the Town and record it, pro- 
vided always that the land being measured, they shall first lay out a conve- 
iiaut quantity of Land with suitable accomodations of all sorts which shall be 
Particularly x'eserved for the public use of the Town. Also it was ordered 
at the same meeting that an authentick Record shall be kept of all that is don 
about the proseeding and actions about the said Island, both the Island and 
on the main, untill further orders be taken. At the same meeting it was 
ordered, that for the particnler appointing which Lot every man shall have it 
shall be don by casting Lots excepting only those persons that have already 
taken there Lots, nainly, Thomas Macy, Tristram Coffin, Seny., Edward Star- 
buck and Richard Swain. 

At the same the same meeting Robert Pike was appointed to keep the 
Records concerning the Island of Nantucket at Salisbury, and Thomas Macy 



30 THE COFFIX FA^HLY. 

to keep the Records at the Island, as in the above said orders expressed at 
present until farther orders bo taken by the owners or purchasers. 

Late in the season of IG.yj, the tirst of the settlers arrived, consist- 
ing of Thomas ]\Iacy and his family, ^dward Starbuck, Isaac Coleman, 
and James Coffin. They found the natives hospitable and kind, and 
disposed to make them welcome. It has been often stated, and, of 
course, become a matter of belief, that the town was first built at Mada- 
ket, and early events are sometimes mentioned as having happened when 
the town was at Madaket, &c. I wisli therefore to state that the towa 
never was at Madakct, nor was there ever any considerable number 
of residences there. Frobablj' there are moi-e people living there now 
than at any previous time in the islaiuVs histor3\ Macy's History of 
Nantucket says that Thomas ]Macy " chose a spot for settlement on the 
-southeast side of Madaket har])or, where he found a rich soil and an ex- 
cellent spring of water." I know not the authority for such statement, 
but certain it is that Tristi'am Cottyn first made a home near the Capauni 
Pond, where he resided until his death, as I shall show by quoting from 
the first book of records ; and I also find that Thomas ]\Iacy had hi« 
house-lot laid out to the eastward of Tristram Cofiyn's, near the Wana- 
comet Pond, in 1G61. To the south and east of Capaum Pond, grew up 
the first village, and many of the cellar indentations where the houses 
stood are yet visible, as well as other evidences of human habitations. 

At a meeting licld at Nantucket, July hi, lOtJl, of the owners or 
purchasers residing there, it was agreed that each man have liberty to 
choose his house-lot within the limits not previously occupied, and that 
each house-lot shall contain sixty rods square to a whole share. Tris- 
tram Coflyn appears to have been allowed to make the first selection 
which is recorded as follows, together Avith the other lots : 

[from first book of 'NANTUCKET RECORDS.] 

Tristram Coffin, Sen., had his house lot layed out at Cappammet, by the 
aforesaid Lot layers, at Cappamet Harljour head, sixty rods squar, or there- 
iibouts, the east side line part of it bounded by the highway; the south side 
bounded by a rock southward of the pond; the north by the harbour head; 
the west side bounded by the lot of Tristram Coffin, Jr., more or less, as it 
is layd out. 

Peter Coffin had his house lot layd out by the aforesaid lot layers on the 
East side of Cappammet harbour, the Xake [neck] of Land lying l)etweea 
the said harbour and the pond commonly called the whale pond, bounded by 
a rock at the southwest corner ; and from thence on a straight Hue to the 
east side of the aforesaid pond ; the bound is the end of the ueck so far as 
the uplaud goes, more or less. 

Tristram Coffin, Junior, had his house lot layd out by the aforesaid Lot 
layers at Coppammet, sixty rods squar, or thereabouts, on tlie east side by the 
lot of his father, Tristram Coffin; on the south side bj'^ the common; ou the 
west by the lot of William Pile, more or less, as it is layed out. 



THE COFFIN F.ULTLY. SI 

James Cottiu had his house lot laycd out by tlie aforesaid lot layers, sixty 
rods squar, or thereabouts, bounded on the soutli by the lot of Nathaniel 
Starbuck ; tlie West side bounded by the commou ; on the East by the land 
of Stepheu Greenleaf, more or less. 

The one half of the accomodation to Tristram Coffin, sen., being 
assigned to Mary Starbuck and Nathaniel Starbuck, Tristram also being 
present at the place commonly called the Parliament House, Sixty rod 
square, bounded with the land of Thos. Mayhew on the south; and with the 
land of James Coffin on the north; and on the east with the laud of Stephen 
Greeuleaf; on the west by the common — Same land allowed at the east end 
■with reference to rubbage laud, more or less. 

Tristram Coffin, sen., had au acre of meadow lay out by Edw'd Starbuck, 
Thos. Macy, himself being present, and Peter Eolger agreeing thereto, ou 
the nack commonly called Nauua hamak Neck, at the south end of the wood- 
land. At the same time Tristram Coffin, junior, had an acre lot laid out at 
the same place. At the same time Peter Coffin had a lot layed out, one acre, 
bouuded with the lot of Tristram Coffiu, Jr., on the southwest, and with 
the lot of Tristram Coffin ou the northwest. 

Tristram Coffin, Sen., had a twenty acre lot; being a Second Divisiou 
answerable to the lot laid out in the five pound purchases, thirty rod in 
breadth, lying a Long from the north side of the house lot of the said Tris- 
tram Coffin lot, by Cuppammet head to the sea, more or less. 

Tristram Coffin, Jr., had twenty acre lot layed out by Tristram Coffiu, 
Edward Starbuck & Peter Folger, answerable to the twenty acres on the five 
pounil purches. 

Tristram Coffyu was thirty-seven years of age upon liis removal to 
America, and fifty-tivc years of age at the time of liis removal to Nan- 
tucket, having spent eighteen years in America previotis to his coming 
to the island to reside. It does not appear that his mother, Joan C'oftyn, 
ever resided in Nantucket ; and it does appear that she died in Boston, 
in May, 1661, at the age of 77 years ; the Rev. Mr. Wilson, who preached 
the funeral sermon, spoke of her as a woman of extraordinary character. 
IHirick's History of Haverhill, quoting from Scwall's Diary, which re- 
corded the fact of Joan C'otfyu s death, says he " embalmed her menioiy.'" 
Of his two sisters who came with him to America, Eunice married 
William Butler, and Mary married Alexander Adams, Avhose history 
cannot here be further followed up. And of his two sisters, Joan and 
Deborah, who w^ere married in England before his departure for America, 
nothing has ever been definitely ascertained. 

Three of his children, viz., Peter, Tristram, Jr., and Elizabeth, were 
married at the time of his removal to Nantucket. Elizabeth married 
Stephen Greeuleaf, November lo, 1651, while they Avere living at New- 
buiy, the first grandchild being Stephen Greeuleaf, Jr., born August 
15, 1652. This grandchild well remembered his great-grandmother, 
Joan Coffyn, and lived to see his own great-grandchildren. I do not 
find that Stepheu Greenleaf or Tristram Cottiu, Jr., ever removed 
their families to or became residents of Nantucket, although they were 



3-2 THE COFFIN FAMILY. 

of the original piircha^<ers. Peter Coffin, however, became a resident of 
the island. Tristram, senior, did not remove his entire family until 
1002. 

From the early historical and traditional accounts Tristram CofFyn 
was the leading spirit among the islanders at the commencement of the 
settlement, and the interests which he and his sons and sons-in-law rep- 
resented (for he frequently signed his name in matters of proprietor- 
ship for himself and tive others), gave him power to control in a great 
degree the enterprises of the island. During the tirst years of his resi- 
dence upon the island he was the richest proprietor, except his son, 
Peter, who was reputed to be possessed of great estate. It is not to be 
found, howcA'er, that he ever exercised his power unduly for his own 
advantage. He sought to have his associates purchase jointly with him 
the island of Tuckernuck. Failing to enlist them in his further enter- 
prise, he, with his three eldest sons, made a purchase of it in their own 
right. When the man to whom certain rights had been granted upon 
condition that he maintain a mill for grinding the grain produced by the 
islanders failed to construct the same, it was Tristram Cotfyn that 
assumed the contract and built and maintained the mill. In all the In- 
dian troubles (for the aboriginees were simply Xorth American Indians) , 
our common ancestor held them in sul)jection in such manner as com- 
manded their respect. He employed large numbers of them in his farm- 
ing operations, and built them improved wigwams upon his land. Our 
late most valued historian, Benjamin Franklin Folger, speaking of his 
relation to the Indians says : " The christian character Avhich he exhib- 
ited and which he practically illustrated in all the varied circumstances 
and conditions of that infant colony, is analogous to that Avhicli subse- 
quently distinguished the founder of Pennsylvania, so that the spirit of 
the one seemed to be but the counterpart of the other." 

The Indians Avere diA'ided into bands and sometimes had quarrels 
among tliemselves and sometimes were at variance with the whites. 
"Whether the white man was always the aggressor, as has been asserted 
quite confidently by the philanthropic friends of the Indian in later 
times, cannot be decided ; J)ut one thing may be stated Avithout fear of 
contradiction, that the Indians became troublesome only after they had 
learned to drink rum, and rum Avas introduced among them by the 
whites. The early court records are mainly devoted to trials, convic- 
tions, and sentences of Indians to be Avhipped for getting drunk and for 
petty larcenies ; and of fines imposed upon Avhite men and Avomen for 
selling mm to Indians. Strong drink Avals the bane of the Nantucket 
Indians, and, so marked Avere its demoralizing influences, that the first 
General Court for Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard, composed of Tris- 
ti'am Cortyn, first chief magistrate of Nantucket, and Thomas MayhcAV, 
first chief magistrate of Martha's Vineyard, and tAvo associates from 



THE COFFIX FAMILY. :V^ 

each island, enacted a law pr()hil)itina- the sale of intoxieatina- drinks to 
Indians. It is pi-oli)ably the tirst prohibitory liquor law on record. The 
evil of rum drinking among the Indians became a serious matter, and 
the prohibitory measures had a restraining influence ; yet for the loAe of 
gain, white men then, as now, violated the law and sold rum to the In- 
dians. The law was occasionally enforced, however, and John Gardner, 
whose gravestone alone marks the spot where our ancestors were flrst 
interred, complained to Governor Lovelace, at Ncav York, under date of 
:March 15, 167G, that a half barrel of rum had been taken from him by 
Thomas ISIacy, then chief magistrate. 'Sir. Gardner also represented 
that the Indian Sachems saitl they would tight if the laws against them 
were enforced. 

Without entering into the consideration of all the causes which led to 
the personal and partisan difficulties between the white settlers at this 
time, it is clear that nim-drinking aniong the Indians was one great 
cause : and the letter of Thomas ]\Iacv to Governor Lovelace, bearing 
date of May •), 167G, amply shows the fear he entertained of the Indians 
if strong drink was allowed to be sold them. And he asks the Governor 
to make an order prohi1)iting any vessel that shall come into the harbor 
from selling strong drink to Indians, believing that an order from the 
Governor at Xew York would have more force than laws enacted by the 
magistrates. He uses this strong language : "Sir, concerning the Peace 
we hitherto enjoy, I cannot imagine it could have bin if strong Liquor 
had bin among the Indians, as formerly: for my owne y' I have been to 
ye utmost an opposed of the Trade these 38 yeares, and I verily be- 
lieve (respecting the Indians) tis the only Ground of the miserable 
p'sent Pvuine to both Nations ; for tis that hath kept them from Civility, 
they have been the drunken Trade kept all the while like wild Beares 
and Wolves in the AMldernesse." 

It also appears that the Court on one occasion took possession of all 
the liquor upon the island and disposed of it in Miall quantities as the 
owners and English neighbors had need of. 

The appointment of Tristram Coftyn as the flrst chief magistrate of 
Nantucket, was about the same time that Thomas IMayhew was appointed 
the flrst chief magistrate of INIartha's Vineyard. The commission I)ears 
date 29th of June, 1671. The two chiefs, together with two assistants 
from each island, were to constitute a General Court with appellate juris- 
diction over both islands. It appears that Governor Lovelace desired 
the inhabitants to recommend two suitable persons for chief magistrate, 
for hinvto make a selection trom. They named Tristram Coffyn and 
Thomas Macy, and he made choice of the former. 

The town voted to have a harrow for the use of the inhabitants ; and 
they further voted that INIr. Tristram Coflj-n provide the harrow, and that 

X-2 



:h X fa:\iily. 

he ;ui(l .Mr. 'riioiuas ^Nlacy 1)0 (,'iii])(nvcTC'(l to si'c that (.'verv man sowed 
i^ec'd " accordiiiii' to order." 

'riio tirst commissiioii of ]Mr. Tristram Cortyn to ])e chief magistrate, 
is copied rrrhdiiiii from the tliird book of Deeds, page (ij, in tlie Secre- 
tary"s OfKce at Ai])any. by ^fr. F. B. Jlongh, and is as follows : 

Commissum (/ranted to Jlr. Tn'strain Coffin, Senr., to ho Chiof Jlar/istratc in 

and over the IsJands- of Xantarl-ctt and- Tnrkaiiucl'ett. 

[Deeds iii, (12, Secretary's Ollice.] 

Francis Lovelace, K^q., ike. : Wlierea.s npou address made mito mee by 
Mr. Tristram Collhi and Mr. Thomas >[acy on y behalfe of tlienisolves and 
y>- rest of y<' inliabitants of Xantuckett Island concern] n,:.' y^' Mamior and 
Method of Govermnent to be used anioni^st themselves, and havinii by yf ad- 
vice of my counccU pitcht upon a way for them; That is to say, That they 
be governed by a person as Chiefe ^Mauistrate, and two Assistants, y^' former 
to be nominated l)y niyselfe, y^' other to be chosen and confirmed by yf inliab- 
itants as in yi- instructions sent unto tlieni is more particularly sett forth. 
And liaving conceived a go"od opinion of y^ fitness and capacity of ^Ir. 
Tri.stram Cothn to be y*^ present Chiefe Maiiistratc to manage aftayres with 
yf Ayd and good advice of yf Assistants in y Islands of Xantuckett and 
Tuckanuckett. I have thought fit to nominate, constitute, and appoint, and 
by these ])rescnts doe hereby nominate, constitute and appoint Mr. Tristram 
Coflhi to be (!hief Magistrate of y*- said Islands of Xantuckett and Tucka- 
nuckett. In y management of which said employment liee is to use his best 
skill and endeavour to preserve his Matifs Peace and to keep y^ Inhabitants 
in gootl Order. And all Persons are liereby required to give ye said Mr. 
Tristram Cotlin such respect and obedience as belongs to a Person invested 
by commission from authority of his JJoyall Highness in yf place and em- 
ployment of a Chiefe ^Magistrate in y^' Islands aforesaid. And hee is duly to 
ol)scrve the Orders and Instructions which are already given forth for 
y<' well governing of yt- Place; or such others as from time to time shall 
hereafter bee given by mee : .Vnd for whatsoever y*-- said Mr. Tristram Coffin 
shall lawfully Act or Doe in Prosecution of ye Premises, This my Commis- 
sion which is to liee of Iforco until y Kith day of October, which shall bee 
in y yeare of our Lord, 1(J72, when a new Magistrate is to enter into the 
em])loyment shall be Ins sufficient ^Varrant and Discharge. 

(iiven under my Hand and Scale at ftbrte .Tames, in Xew Yorke, this 2!ttli 
day of June, in y^ 22d yeare of his Maties lieigne, Anno(( Dni. 1G7L 

Fk.vn. Lovkl.vce. 

There existed a feud in 1675-6, between Thomas Macy, chief magis- 
trate, and William Worth, his son-in-hnv, of one party, and John Gard- 
ner and Peter Folger and others, of the other party. The commission of 
Mr. ]MacY had run out, and, no successor being appointed, Mr. ^laoy 
continued to act. Peter Cottin had returned to the ishuid from Ihjston. 
and was chosen an associate magistrate. The method of choosing Avas 
by ballot of corn and beans. All in favor of electing Peter Coffin were 
to vote corn, and those opposed were to vote beans. There must have 
been considera))le electioneering in tliosc days about the Ohl Parliaiiient 
House, for one enthusiastic advocate of Peter Cofhn's election exclaimed 
" Corn JVter Codifi ! If he doift serve we will get his line."' It was ob- 



THE COFFTX FAMILY. 35 

jeett'il that Peter Coffin already held a coimnission in IJoston and was 
Deputy of the (ieneral Court of .Massaclnisetts and could not legally 
serve: hut, notwithstaudinu" all olijections, he was chosen. His election 
.seenu'd to iiave hei-u a triumph of the younu' uu'u ovt'r the older ones. 
For Peter Fol^-er, in his letter of conii)laiut to Covernor .Vndross, at New 
York, speaks rather contemptuously of "our new young magistrates." 
Peter Folger was the clerk of the Court, and refused to perform the 
lunctions required of him ]>y the chief magistrate. Whereupon he was 
put under ari'est. Tliomas Macy issued tlie following summons, signing 
it liimself : 

•'Tis the order of the Court that the Constable be sent to Peter 
Ftoulger for the Court Booke, and all the Records of that Mature, and 
this is to impower the Constable herein to l)ring them to y Court forth- 
with, and IVter Ffoulger is hereby ri'quired to deliver them. 

Pr me. Tno: .Macv. ^iag." 

My. Folger came to the Court, but he answered not. \\'illiam \Vorth 
was chosen clei'k of the Court, and the following indictment was found 
against Peter Folger foi" contempt : 

At a ("curt of .\.jm-nieut lield in the Towue of Slierl)uriie, Uth Febu- 
rary, h'>TC, Pettcr Foiil2;er, ludittcd for Contempt of his ]\Ia^is Athority. in 
not appearing before the Court according to fiuuous fcrucd on lain and being 
Apreheuded by Specall Warrant being braofc to the Court to Anfwer for hi.s 
Contentious Garage, .Vnd being demanded why he did fo act gauc no Anfwer : 
Th'o the Court waited on hem a Wliile and vrged him to fpeak, The Sentence 
of the Court is to Kemite the Caufc to the Court of Atize at Xew York as the 
hiw derects ancl to giue twenty Pound Bond for Ins appearance, and to abide 
the Order of tlie Conrt and to ftaud committed til Bond be given. 

.V true Copy By tlie Court 

WiLT.i.vM Wonrn, CI. 

]Mr. Folger not tinding bondsmen was placed in prison. He describes 
it as "A place where never any Englishman was put, and where the 
Neighbors Iloge had layd hut the Xight before, and in a bitter cold Frost 
and deep Snow. They had only thrown out most of the Dnrt, Ilogc 
Dung and Snow. The Ilest the Constable told mc 1 might ly upon if I 
would, that is upon the Boards in that Case, and without Victuals or 
Fire. Indeed I perswaded him to fetch a little Hay, and he did so, and 
some Friend did presently bring in some Beding and Victuals."' 

The people generally took sides upon the matters in controversy, 
and a bitter feeling was engendered. The admission of new partners 
into the arrangements for settling and utilizing the island introduced an 
element of discord ; and, the Province of New York claiming and hold- 
ing jurisdiction of the island, there grew up a feeling in favor of accept- 
ing the jurisdiction of the :\Iassachusetts Province. Under this high 
.state of feeling, upon a representation of the afi'airs at New York, (Jov- 
ernor Andross, who had succeeded (Governor Lovelace, called Tristram 



;h; the coffix family. 

C'ottyu airaiii to the chief maoi.stvacy. "While Tristram was the senior of 
Thomas ;Macy by only three years, yet, I)}- virtue of his numerous tamily, 
he ai)i)ears to have been regarded as the patriarch of the island ; and 
when this great dissention among the settlers had assumed proportions 
alarming to the better angels of their nature, thej' instinctively turned 
to Tristram Cotfyn as the one man who .could administer justice to the 
islanders with impartiality. Yet he did not altogether succeed, as we 
shall subsequently see. The second commission as chief magistrate is 
copied from the Nantucket Records, and is as follows : 

Second Commission of Tristram Coffin to be Chief ^lagistrate. 
[1st book Nantucket Records, paije 101.] 

Edimiiul Audros, Esqr., seisnem* of Sausmarez, Lieut. & Goveruour Geueral 
under his lloyall Highuesse James, Duke of Yorke and Albany, ikc, of all 
Ills Territories in America : 

AVhercas au undue or illegali returue of tlie Chief Magistrate of Nan- 
tuckett hath been made t\vo yeares successively from thence, the one being 
by law wholly incapable thereof: Therefore by advice of my Counsell, by 
vertue of his Majesties Letters Pattents, & authority from his Koyall Higli- 
nesse, I doe hereby in his Majesty's name, nominate, constitute, and author- 
ize Mr. Tristram Coffin, senr., to be Chiefe Magistrate of the said Island of 
Nantucket and dependencyes for the ensuing yeare, or further order, in tlie 
place and stead of Mr. Thomas Macy, late Chiefe Magistrate, and being 
thereunto sworn by liim, or next in place, to act .a^i Cliiefe Magistrate acconl- 
ing to Law and lawful! custome and practice, requiring all persons whom it 
maj^ concern, to conform themselves thereunto accordingly'. 

Given under my hand and seale of the Province in New Yorke, this six- 
teenth day of September 1G77. 

E. Anduoss. 

In another book, the text evidently written b}' Peter Coffin, Jjcfore 
whom it was acknowledged, is the following oath of office taken l)y 
Tristram Coflyn, to which his autograph is annexed. It is the onlj' trace 
of his OAvn hand found upon any of the records : 

[Book 2 — in Register of Deeds Office, Nantucket.] 

AVhereas I, Tristram Coffin, senior, have Received a Com'n l^ariug 
date the 16 of September, 1677, Invcstinge me with power to be chefe 
magistrate one the ITd of Nantucket and dependances, for this ye one 
yeare ensuinge, or til further order, I, Tristram Coffin, above said, doe 
engage nry selfe, under the penalty of perjury, to doe Justise in all 
caiises that come Ijcfore me, according to law and endeavor to my best 
understanding and heareunto I have subscribed 

Thistkaji Cokfvn, chefe magstrat. 



Mr. Tristram Coffin, senior, acknowledged this above sul)scriptiou 
to be his Act and deed Before me 

Petek Coffin, Assistant. 



THE COFFIN FA:\IILY. :57 

Soon after the inarria.£>'e of Mary Coffin, the younj^cst daniijhter of 
Tristram, with NatlianielStarl)nck, the old gentleman concluded to make 
his 8on-in-law a landed proprietor; and, with a.s much care for tlie con- 
tinofeiicies of the future as kind ])arents exercise in the present age, and 
with equal nicety in the choice of language as may be found in modern 
conveyances, executed the following deed to his daughter and her lius- 
band. It will be seen that it Avas made some years before it was ac-knowl- 
odged, and acknowledged some years before it was recorded : 

Tristram convei/s to danyhter Marij Starhuck and her husband Xathanicl 1-2 

of all estates. 
[Nantucket Kecords, 1st Book, Page 97.] 

Know all Men by these Presents, that I, Tristram Coflbi, of Nantucket, 
do for divers good considerations, as Also in regard of my Fatherly atl'ec- 
tions, do give unto my daughter, Mary Starlnick, the one half of my accom- 
odation of my purchase, on Nantucket Island, namel.v, the half of my tenth 
part which I bought with the other nine first purchasers of Mr. Thomas 
iNIayhew, in Patten right, and of the Shachems Indians right, as by there 
grant in the Deed will at large appeare : I do as aforesaid give and grant unto 
my daughter, Mary Starbuck, all the one half of my accomodation of Patten 
liight, and all my Kight of the half of all lands. Meadows, marshes, com- 
mons, Tember, wood, and all appurtenances Thereunto belonging, as fully as 
myself or any of the other Twenty part shares have or ought to have, in 
manner and form following: the one half to her own and her Husband's Dis- 
posal, namely, her Hu;sband, Nathaniel Starbuck, to them and their heirs and 
assigns, forever, the other half to my aforesaid Daughter, I\Iary Starbuck, 
and Nathaniel Starbuck, her Husband, during their Lives, and when they Dy, 
then it shall be for the use of my Daughter, Mary Starbuck's child, or chil- 
dren, to him, her, or them, and their heirs, forever; but, if my Daughter, 
Mary Stai'buck, have no child or children Living when she Dyetli, Then it 
shall be in the power of her Husband, Nathaniel Starbuck, to Dispose of all 
the afoi'esaid Lands and Accomodations, with all appurtenances, as he shall 
Judge most meet, in witness whereof, I, the said Tristram Coffin, have 
hereuuto set my hand and seal, this 14th -tth mo, IGGI:. 

Tkistkam Coffyn. 
[Signed sealed and delivered in the preseuce of — 

Thomas Macy, 

Mauy Swain, 

Sauaii Macy. 

This deed was acknowledged before me, Thomas Mayhew, upon the 
Island of Nantucket, this 15th day of January, 1C>77, I say before me 

Thomas Mayiikw, Mag. 

July 26, 173G. — Then Keceiv'd the original of this above written Deed, 
and by the Desire of same consei'ued, perfected the Record above by nnikiug 
the sign of the seal. Attest : Elezek EoL(a:i;, ilegr. 

While Tristram was generally reputed to be quite wealthy in goods 
and lands, owning, together with his sons, at one time about a one- 
fourth part of the island of Nantucket, and the whole of Tuckernuck, 
he did not die rich. lie fulty realized that he could not take his riches 
with him to another world, and tliat the amount of land lie would re- 



38 TIIK COFFIX FA:\IILY. 

({uiix' at his (U-ath would 1)e very small. He iriadc no will, but dis- 
posc'd ot" iiiiich of his laud Avhile he livi'il, by derds, the cousidcratiou 
always beiua' his " reu'ard and natural aftbetion." ]\lost of the foniaiudcr 
of his estate lie deeded to his two younci'est sons, John and Sti'pheu, 
and tiiey were to take after the decease of ])oth himself and his wife. 
'I'o each of his orandchildren he o'ave ten acres of land ni)on the island 
of Tuckeniiu-iv, or to such of them as would plant it. 

Trislrdiii to Stcphe}!. iiis i/oiiinicsf soii. coiirriii lUj iialf his (icroiiinio- 
(Idtioiis, cxccfiH it<i /lis licii- house on ffic Iiill. 

[Xantucket Hecords, ()M i5ook. I'aue li;;.] • " 

i\iio\v all .Men l)y these presents, tliat i. Tristram CotHn, of Xan- 
tucket, Senore, do a'ivc, aTant, bargain and sell unto my sou, Stephen 
Coflin, the one-half of my laud at Cappam, Alies Xorthani, within the 
towushii) of Sherljorn, situated upon Xantuclcet Island, tluit is to say, 
the one half of my house lot Avitli lialf my accomodations and privileses 
and appurtenances wliatsoever thereunto l)elonuinii', all buildinu' except, 
that is to say, my new dwellinu' h(nise upon the hill, and my old dwcll- 
inu' house under the hill. l)y tlie Krbe i>arden: now, for aiul in consid- 
eration of tlu' aforesaid [>remisses, my son, Stephen Cotlin, sliall always 
from time to time do the ))est he can in manaii'ino- of niy other half of 
my lands and accomodation, durinu' mine and my wife's life, and that he 
he hel[)full to me and his mother in our old as'e and sickness, what he 
can: now I, Tristram Cottin, above said, do for this and foi' divers othei" 
considerations me nioviuif thereunto, do as above said, li'ive, ji'raut, 
barti-ain, and sell unto my son, Stephen t'ottin, his heirs and assio-us, all 
my one half of my liouse lot with ail ap[)urteiuinces thereunto beloufiiuii- : 
To have and to lioid forever, to him, tlie said Stephen Cotlin, his heirs 
and assiii'us, executors and administrators, upon tlie conditions aforesaid : 
and my son, Stephen Cotlin, shall allways from time to time, have free 
liberty to o-o to and froe to the ucav barne that he hath lately l}nilt with 
horse, foot, and cart, as he hath occasi(^u, and to have the free use of 
lialf an acre of land adjoining' the said I>arn on the Kas; side, and Sontli 
and Xorth side, in witness Avhereof, 1 have set my hand and seal, the 
tifteenth of the eleventh mone, (Uie thousand six hundred and seventy- 
si.v. • Ti;isti;.\:m Coki'vn. 

Acknowledu'ed Ixd'ore me the deed witliin wi-itten tins l.')tli day of 
.June. lt)77. Tiio^iAs M.vvuF.w, .Mau'i^'trate. 

Afireciiu'iit hct irccii Stcplict Coffin (i,i:l ins father, (is to rl(jhts in Ixini 
to Trisl rmn dud iiis irife Dionis. 

[Nantucket Ui'coi-ds. lAl Uook, Tau'e 12.] 

Artickels of aureement l)et\veen Tristram Cotlin, Senior, andSteplien 
CotHn, Son of tlie aforesaid Tristram Cottin, both of the Town of Sher- 
born, (ui the Island of Xantucket, as followeth : imprimis, we do Jointly 
ami severally aiirei' that wlu'ivas there is a Barn built at Coppamet l)y 
us, this prest'ut year, one Thousand Si.\ hundri-d seventy seven, that the 
aforesaid Stephen Coflin hath ])in at the most part of the charo-e, there- 
fore 1, Ti-istram Cottin, do covenant and aiiree with my son. Stephen 



'rilK COFFIX FAAflLY. 39 

Cortiu, that lu' sliall havf the atbix'said l)arii and Lrntors for hinisell", and 
his heirs and assigns, forever: To have aud to hold and (Quietly to Injoy, 
ill Consideration whereof, as also in Consideration of tlie IJeeeivinfj; of 
Two Thonsand foot of lioards, and snme rinil)er, and soiin' Labour of 
severall persons in franiinii' the works. J, Sti'[)hen Cottin, do Consent and 
atiTee that my Father, Tristram Cotfin, and my mother. Dionis Coffin, 
sliall have the use of the one half of the aforesaid barn, Cominii^ in and 
i>"oino- to the barn and Lentors without any kind of hindrance. Let. or 
molestation, 1»y, from, or under me, Stei>hen Cottin, my ludrs, executors. 
Administrators, or Assigns ; and if my Father aud >lother aforesaid do 
happen to Dye in some short time, as namely, Avithiu seven years after 
the Date hereof, then I, Ste])hen Coffin, do eu^a.ii'e to pay the some of Ten 
Founds to my Father or ^lothcr's order, within one year after theii' De- 
i-ease, if they or either of them order me so to do. AVituess our luuids 
and seals to this ajxreenient, the Lstli of -July, 1077. 
.Sinned, .sealed, and delivered in presence of us, ] 

wlio are witness to these present within I ,,, ,, 

written artickles of aorcement : 1 kisti;am .um-vx, 

M.vnru.v Hf.s.sEv, Tik.mas .ALvcv, f sncn.EN I o, kin. 

N.VTIIANIF.I. IJaUXAUD. j 

this Deed wa Vcknowledu'ed this i'4th Day of July l)efore me 

Til OS. ]\Ia('V, Maii. 

Tn'strtiiii (jrants lils jicir (hrcllliKj Iioiisc to ht.s sod Joint. 
[Xantucket llecords, -Jd IJook, Fai>e I'.i.] 

To all christian people To Avhome these presents shall come, Tristram 
Cottin, Senior, in the Town ot Sherborn, on the Island of ]S'antucket, 
sendeth oreetiiiif, and Declarcth that, in re.iiard to my naturall afections 
unto my son, Jolm Coffin, now of Sharbon, as also for divers other u'ood 
and Lawful consideration, 1, the above said Tristram Coffin, do freelj' 
li;ive unto my son, .lohu Cotlin, and to his heirs, forever, my new Dwell- 
m(f house, with all other houses Adjoining;- unto it, and also the whole 
half share of land and accomodation and a[)purtenances thereunto Be- 
lonp'inii', Xamly, my i)art of the House lot and all commonaiiv of Timl)er, 
wood, pasturages, and all meadows, marshes, and creek yrass thereunto 
belon<i'ini>-, the aforesaid Tristram Coffin, tlo freely aud tirmly by these, 
ii'ive, i>rant, and coutirm the a1)ove said Dwidliuij Iltmse, Avith all privi- 
leii'es and appurtenances as afore named, unto my son. ,Iohn Cottin, and 
to his heirs: to luvA'e and to hold forever, imediatly after the Decease of 
Hie, the aforesaid Tristram Coffin, Senior, and my uoav wife, Dionis 
Cotlin, free and discharued against all persons or person layint'' any claim 
unto the above said House or any appurtenances thereunto l)elon<T:iny, in, 
by, or uniler me ; and in witness hereof. 1, T'ristrani Coltin, Senior, have 
set my hand and seal, the third Day of December, one Thousand Six 
hundred Seventy Ei^'ht. 

Ti;i.^ti;am Coi-i-vn, Senior. 
AVituess hereunto : 

Jaaif.s COFI'IX, 

StF.I'IIEX CoFl'IX. 

This was ackuowledo-ed Ijv ^fr. Tristram Cottin to lie his act and 
Deed the "Ul 10 m, 1(!7S. ' 

William Wonrii. Assistant. 
A true copy : William A\'(>i;rn. Kecorder. 



40 THE COFFIX FA^HLY. 

Tristra))}. (jranta ten acres of land to each of his f/randchildrento plant. 

[Nantucket Records, -Jd Book, Page 17.] 

All ]\Icn .shall know )»y these presents, that I, Tristram Coffin, of 
Sherborn, on the Island of Xantucket, with or in Regard of my Natural 
afection nnto my Grand Children, 1 do freely give unto every one of 
them Ten Acres of land to plant or sow English grain on, or any other 
Improvement tor oats oi' what is tit for food for men. I say J, the above 
said Tristram Coffin, senior, do freely and fermly give unto all and everj' 
one of my grand children that are now living, or that shall be born here- 
after, each of them ten acres of Land upon the Island of Tuckernnck : 
To have and to hold to plant Indian Corn or to sow or plant any other 
grain on, and if they or any of them shall sow their land with english 
hay seed they shall have liberty to keep four shep upon every acre during 
dureing their Life time, of any one that shall so impi-ove the above named 
Land, or any part of it. in AVitness hereof, I, Tristram Coffin, have set 
my hand and seal 3d 10th 1()7S. 
Signed, sealed and delivered in presence of us") 

the within written Deed. ' rp ^, /<-.,.... 

James Coffin, John Coffin, Tiustr.oi C off.x. 

Stephen Coffin. j 

This Deed Avas acknowledged by 'Sir. Tristram Coffin to be his act 
and Deed l^efore me William 'iV(.>KTii, assestant ;> m 10th 1678. 

this is a true copy of the origenall hy me — William Woitxii, Regr., 

By these deeds above quoted we shall learn that Tristram Cottyn had 
a new dwelling house, which stood on a hill, and another dwelling house 
which stood under the hill. Also, that he last lived in his new house on 
the hill. With this information, and by tracing the title of the new 
house on the hill, which was conve3'ed to John C'offin, and from .lohii to 
his son Peter, and from Peter to his son Robert, the said Robert's estate 
being defined within the recollection of the present generation, I think 
we can know the exact spot where Tristi'am Coftyn last resided, and from 
which place his mortal put on immortality. Ills wife, who survived 
him, dou])tlcss breathed her last in the same mansion, as she was to have 
a life right carved out of the estate which subsequently became A^ested 
in .lohn and Stephen Coffin. The Court of Sessions, at that time exer- 
cising probate jurisdiction, allowed to ]\Irs. Dionis Coflyn the use of the 
entire estate of her husband during lier life, the three sons, James, John, 
and Stephen, as administrators, so recommending. 

The date of Tristram's death has been fixed by some writers as hav- 
ing occurred on the 2d day of Octo])er, IGHl, and I have given it as such 
in the opening paragraph of this book. It is so recorded in the record 
of deaths in the ToAvn Clerk's office. ' But in the Records of the Court 
held the month folloAving his death, where his three sons, then residing 
upon the island, appeared and were granted letters of administration, it 



THE COFFIN FAMILY. 41 

is plainl}^ Avritteii 3d. Xnd on the 8th day of the following August, when 
an inventory of the estate wa.s presented, the date of his death is again 
stated as occurring on the third day of October, and this time it is 
spelled out. So that the preponderance of record evidence is in favor of 
the 3d of October, 1681. It is possible that the death occurred at mid- 
night, about the close of the 2d and commencement of the 3d, and the 
time differently estimated by different persons. The night of the -id 
would be continuous with many at that time, until the daylight of the 
3d, and timepieces were not as numerous as now, the hour-glass serving 
principally as a recorder of time. 

The following copies from the Court records will reveal the condition 
of his estate at the time of his decease, and the proceedings had thereon. 
It Avas the last service performed for him by his children, and was done 
decently and in order : 

]Mr. James Coffin, John Coffin, Steven Coffin doe bind ourselves, 
Joyntly and severall}-, in the some of an hundred pounds starlinge, to 
(Perform the trust in administering on our father's estate, and to l)aer the 
Court harmless according to law. 

James Cokfix, 
Joiix Coffin, 
Stephen Coffin. 

At a Court of Sessions held the 29th of November, 1681, I have 
granted administration unto Mr. James Coffin, John Coffin and Steven 
Coffin, on the estate of ^Ir. Tristram Coffin, deceased the 3d day of 
Octol^er, 1681, the having given security according to law. 

The 8th day of August, 1682, an Inventory being presented to the 
Court of the estate of Mr. Tristram Coffin, senior, who departed this life 
the third day of Octol)er. on thousand six hundred eighty one, the Court 
taking into consideration the present state of the estate, together with 
the best Information of his mind before his decease : doe order the use 
of the estate for ]\Is Dionis Coffin, his widdow, during her life, after al 
Just debts are paid. 

At a Court this 9th Feljruary, 1682. 

]Mr. James Coffin and Steven Coffin appeared at this Court desiring 
discharg of further standing administrator to the estate of Tristram 
Coffin, deceased. It appeared to the Court thej- having made payment 
of all the estate. 

As previously indicated, Tristram assumed the duties of Chief Mag- 
istrate the last time under peculiar circumstances. He succeeded his 
long time friend and associate Thomas ]Macy, against Avhom there had 
been bitter animosities engendered. The difficulties which perpiexed 
Mr. ^Nlacy, also ainioyed Tristram. And while it does not appear that he 
was interested in the contentions to the extent that ]\Ir. Macy was, yet 
as his interests were the same, it is nowise probable that his opinions 



42 Till-: COFFIN FAMILY. 

were withhold, llv julhered to the policy inainttiinod l)y the twcutv 
oriulual purcluisiTs, as opposed to tlic claims of tlic subsi'i|nciit settlers 
who were admitted to certain privilcu'es and accorded certain riii'lits 
.specitically mentioned, hnt not npon terms ot' e([uality. Tlie new settlers 
were allowi'd half shares npon certain conditions: bnt tlu-y multiplied 
and soon outnumbered tlie original hand, and partisan fecdinu's were 
fostered, and jealonsii's appeali-d to in such manner, that the era of u'ood 
feelinir vv:»s i)assed never n.iore to ))e recalled in his day. if ever after 
enjoyed. His last administration, as will be discovered by the otticial 
documents presented, was not witliout its alloy of unhapitiness, and left 
him a le;.iacy of sorrow, which his sons, with tilial re<>ard, hastened to 
relieve hini of. In his huml)le petition for relief, he touchinolv refers to 
the act of his son havini>- saved liim from languish ino- in a in'ison ; and to 
John (iai'dner, l^is sncces:<or as chief maiiistrat. Avho i)resented his peti- 
tion, as his lovinu^ nei^iiljor. 

The oHicial act wliicli caused him to sacritice his i)roperty to repair, 
Avas one of omission rathei' than commission. A shij) was wrecked on 
Xantnclvct shoals, in September, KiTS, loaded with hides, ami the chief 
ma.U"istrate allowed lu'r to be wrecked l)y parties. Tortious of the cargo 
and rigging Avere embezzled. A Court of Admiralty held the chief mag- 
istrate responsil)le, and the parties Avho had derived the l)enetlt of Avreck- 
ing the vessel refused to bear an}^ share of the tine, and the Ijurden fell 
upon Tristram Cotfyn aloni'. His own testimony in the case seems to 
liave ))een all tlie evidence against him upon Avhich the decision Avas 
made ni*. No one of his descendants Avill read the story as otH(!ially re- 
corded, without a feeling of pride that their great ancestor, under a most 
distressing ordeal, in Avhich l)0th his fortune and his honor Avere at stake, 
saved his honor. And the (iovernor at Noav York discharged him tVom 
the award of the Admiralty upon his repi-esentation. 

Through these documents, [)reserved for more than two centuries, 
we get a glimpse of the spirit of the times Avhich our Nantucket 
ancestors impressed with their own i)ersonality. And, while the hrst 
settlers were not all agreed u[)on the su])jects of public policy Avhich 
subsequently entered into the political concerns of the island, :ind Avhile 
their dissentions oftentimes assumed a degree of acrimony and vindic- 
tiveness painful to retlect upon, they Avere very generally nu'U of sturdy 
character and heroic lives. Looking back through tlie dim vista of two 
hundred years wt' shall I)ehold a galaxy of names illuuiined by liigh re- 
solvi's — names that have not tarnished witli time nor faded from the 
Avorld with the friction of the centuries — nauies that were not born to 
die. We shall see engraA'cn high uj) on the world's escutcheonthe names 
of Macy, Starbuck, Folgi'i-, (iardner, Swain, Ilussey, Coleman. IJarnard — 
and tlu'U. still higher n|), i-esi)lendent with innumerable descending rays 



THE COFFIN FAMIl.Y. V.\ 

of li.ulit ;uul li)vr :uui chi-istiau syinpiithy, cxtcudiiio- throuirliout the 
broud uuivorso, we- shall st-c the luuiu' of Tristrani Cotfyn. 

At the aii'i' of 7(i he passed from the scenes of earth, honored and re- 
spected by a lara-e race of descendants, and nnmerous friends and neiu'h- 
l)Ors. At his death he left a posttTity of 7 children, (in urandclnldren, 
aud a numljer of ii'rcat-2ran<lchildren. His posterity is moi-e numerous 
now. In 17-^l' there had l)een l)orn 11:>S descendants, of whom ^71 were 
then livimi". In 17-_'S, six years later, there had been addi'd to the num- 
ber born 444. inakino- tlie total number l)orn loS^: ami of that numl)er 
Ill's still sur\i\ed. This compntation, l)y Stephen (iret'nleaf. the tirst 
o-randchild. was made more than one Imndred aii«l fifty years au'o. What 
the nunil)er now is will never Ix' tlelinitely ascertained. Tlieir name 
is leu'lon. 

The ancestor Tristram found a seiiulclire ujiou ihc island of Xan- 
tucket where he died, but none of his numerous descendants can point 
out the place. H" the old cemetery east of the ^Nlaxcy's pond was used 
for burial as early as 1681, he was doubtless' interred therein. If not, 
then most likely n[ion his own estate. 

Xantucket beinu' a dependency of the Province ot New York, the 
earliest records concernins'-the island are found amonu' the archives ot 
that State, at All)any. From these otiicial records Mr. Franklin B. 
Hou,o-h, in 1S.')(;. made a compilation of very many vahial)le aud e.vceed- 
ino-ly interestii\u- documents relating- to Xantuckt't. which would i)r(jba- 
bly never have seen the liS'ht Ijut for his la))ors. They are printed in a. 
small book, and thouuii the inimber of co[)ies printed was limited to one 
hundred and tifty, I have ))een enal)led to possess myself of one long 
cnoujzh to make the followini:' extracts therefrom : 

iJi'i'ds frviii James Fforrctt to Thaiaas Jliq/lu'n- and Son. 
[Deeds, i, 71 : Hi, fU, and iii, 70, Secretary's Oltico, Albany.] 
There Pretents doe witnefle, That 1, James Fforrctt, Gent., who was tent 
over into thefe parts of America, l)y the lion''!"' Lord Sterling with a Com- 
niimon for tlie orderini;- and difpotiini' of all llie Itlands that lyetli I)etween 
Cape Codd and lludfons IJiver, and have iiitherto continued his Aijent with- 
out any Contradiction, doc hereby uraunt unto Thounis ]Mayliew at AVater- 
towne,' iMcrchant, and to Thomas Mayliew his Sonne, free Lil)erty and full 
Power to them, their Jleyres and .Vtliiines, to Plant and luhabitt upon Xan- 
tuckctt and two fmall Itlands adjacent, and to enjoy the laid Itlands to tlicm, 
their lleyres, aud Alliuues forever. Provided, Tliat Thomas ^Mayhew and' 
ThonuxsMayhow his Sonne or either of tiieni or their .Mliuns doe I'ender and 
pay yearly unto the llon'''^- the bord Sterlin.:;-. his lleyres and A(lii>iics. fiich 
auAcknowled.g-einent as fhall bee thouulit iitt by John Wiutlirop Ftqi- the 
IClder, or any two ^lai^iftrates in the Martachufetts Pay, W\\\ix cliofen for 
that End and I'urpofe'by the Hon. the Lord Sterliuii' or his Deputy; aud by 
the faid Thomas Mayhew and TiKMuas :\rayl!ew his Sonne, or their .Uli.unes. 
Its agreed, Tliat the (iovernnit that, the faid Thomas .ALiyhew aud 
Thouias Mayhew his Sonne aud their .Vtliuees fhall fett up, fhall l)ce fiich as 
is now eftablifhed in the INIatlachufetts aforefaid. and that the faid Thomas 
Mayhew and Thonuis [Mayhew hi.s Sonne and their .Vflignes fiudl have as 



44 THE COFFIN FAMILY. 

much Privilcdge touching their Phiutiug, luhiibitting, and Enjoying, of all 
and every Part of the Preniifes as by the Patent to the Patentees of the 
Maflachufetts aforefaid, and their Aflbciates. In Witnefle liereof I the faid 
James Fforrett have lierennto fett my Hand and Seale this loth Day of Oc- 
tober, 10-11. 

Jamks Fi'ouiiETT (Seale) 
Witnefles; Philip Watsox, Gierke. 

koijert coiiaxe, 
Nicholas Davisox, 
Hiciii^ Stillmax. 

A Deed Hade to 2Ir. Jlai/hew bi/ Etchard Vines. 
[De^ls, iii, 06, Secretary's Office.] 

I, Richard Vines, of Saco, Gent., Steward Genin for Sir Fferdiuaud 
Gorges, K"t, Lord Proprietor of y*^ Province of IMayne Laud and y*^ Illands 
of Caparrock and Nantican, doe by thefe Prefents give full Power and Au- 
thority unto Tlionias Mayhew, Gent: his Heyres and Affociates, to plant and 
inhabitt upon ye Iflands of Caparrock als :MaVtha's Vineyard, wtu all Rights 
and Priveledges thereunto belonging, to enjoy the Premifes unto hinifelfe liis 
Heyres and Aflbcjates forever, yielding and paying unto ye faid Sr Ferdinand 
Gorges, his Heyres and Affigues forever annually, as two Gent, indiflereutly 
by each of them chofen, fhall judge to be meet by way of acknowledgment. 
Given under my Hand this 25tii day of Octol)er, 1C41. 

RiCH'-^ Vines. 
Wituefs : 
Thomas Page, 
RoBicKT Long. 

Deed of Xantuelcct to Ten Purchafers. 

[Deeds iii, 50, Secretary's Office.] 

Recorded for Mr. Coffin and Mr. Macy aforefJ y^' Day and YeareaforesJ . 

Bee it known unto all Men by thefe Prefents, that I, Thomas Mayliew, 
■of Martini's Vineyard, Merchant, doe hereby acknowledge, tliat I have sould 
unto Triftram Coffin, Thomas Macy, Chriftophor Hutt'ey, Richard Swayne, 
Thomas Bei'uard, Peter Coffin, Stephen Greenleafe, John Swayne, and 
William Pike, that Right and Intereft I have in y^ Land of Nantuckett, by 
Patent; ye wch Riglit I bought of James Fforrett, Gent, and Steward to y^ 
Lord Sterling, and of Richard Vines fonietimes of Sacho, Gent., Steward- 
Oeurll unto Sir Georges, Kniglit, as by Conveyances under their Hands and 
Scales doe appeare, ffor them yt- aforefaid to lujoy, and their Heyres and 
.\ffignes forever, wtu all the Priviledges thereunto belonging, for in confidei'- 
.ation of ye Sume of Thirty Pounds of Current Pay, unto wliomfoever 1 ye 
faid Thomas Mayhew, mine Heyres or Affignes, fhall appoint. And alfo two 
Beaver Hatts, one for niyfelfe, and one for my wife. And further, tliis is to 
declare that I the said Thomas ALiyhew have received to myfelf that Neck 
upon Nantuckett called Masquetuck, or that Neck of Land called Nafhayte, 
tlie Neck (but one) northerly of Masquetuck, .y«^ aforefaid Sayle in any- 
wife uotwitliftauding. And further, I y fiiid Thomas Mayhew am to beare 
my Parte of the Charge of ye faid Purchafe abovenamed, and to hold one- 
twentieth Part of all Lands purchafed already, or fhall be hereafter pur- 
cliafed upon ye faid Ifland, by ye aforefi Purchafrs or Heyres and Affignes 
forever. Briefly : It is thus;" That I really fold all my Patent to ye aforefaid 
nine Men, and they are to pay mee, or whomfoevcr I fhall appoint them, 
je Sume of Tliirty Pounds in good Marchantable Pay in ye Maffachufetts, 



THE COFFIN FMIILY. 45 

imder wcIj Govenirat tho}' uow Inhabit, and 2 Beaver Hatts, aud I am to 
beare a 2Uth Part of ye Charge of y^ Purchafo, and to have a 20th Part of all 
Lands and Priviledges ; and to have w^-ii of j^e Necks abovef<i that I will 
myfelfe, paying for ft ; only yo Purchafei-s are to pay what ye Sachem is to 
have for Mafquetuck, although I have ye other Neck. 

And in "Witnefs hereof, I have hereunto fett my Hand and Scale this 
fecond Day of July, flxteen hundred and fifty-nine, 1650. 

Per me, Tno : Mayiiew. 
Witness 

John Smyth, 
Edwaud Scale. 

Deed of Tuckanucket Ifland. 
[Deeds iii, 57, Secretary's Ornce.] 

Eecorded for Mr Coffin and Mr Macy aforefaid ye Day aud Yeare Afore- 
, written. 

The tenth Day of October, one thoufand fix hundred fifty and nine; 
Thefe Prefents Wituefs, That I, Thomas Mayhew, of Martin's Vineyard, 
Mercht, doe Give, Grant, Bargaine, and Sell, all my Right and Intereft in 
Tuckanuck Ifiand, als Tuckanuckett, which I have had, or ought to have, by 
Vertue of Patent llight. purchafed of ye Lord Stirling's Agent and of Mr 
Richard Vines, Agent unto Sir Fferdinaudo George, Knight, unto Triftram 
Coffin S^'. Peter Coffin, Triftram Coffin Juni'. aud James Coffin, to them and 
their Heyres forever, flbr and in confideracou of ye juft Snme of fix Pounds 
in Hand paid, and by mee Thomas Mayhew, received iu full Satisfaction of 
ye aforefaid Patent Right, of ye aforefaid Ifland. 

And iu Wituefs hereof, I have fett my Haud aud Scale. 

Per rae, Tiiojias Mayhew. 
Wituefs hereunto, 
Roger Wheeler, 
George Wheeler. 

Deed of Wanockmamack. 

This witucsseth that I, Wanochmumack, chife sachem of Xantuckct, 
hath sokl unto ]\Ir. Tristram Coffin and Thomas Macj', their heirs and 
assigns, that whole nack of kind called by the Indians, Pacummohqiiah, 
being at the east end of Xantucket, for and in consideration of live 
pounds to be paid to me in F^nglish goods or otherwise to my content by 
the said Tristram Coffin aforesaid' at convenient time as shall be de- 
manded. Witness my hand or mark this 22 of June, 1G62. 

Wanackmamak. 
"Witness hereto : 

rETEK FoL(fEK & Wawinnesit wliosc English name is Amos. 

Indian Deed of Nantucket. 

[Deed.s iii, 54, Secretary's Office.] 

Recorded for ^Ir. Triftram Coffin and Mr. Thomas Macy, ye 29th of 

June, 1G71 aforefaid. 

These Patents Wittnefs, yt I, Wanockmamack, Head Sachem of ye 
Ifland of JSrantiJckett, have Bargained and Sold, and doe by thefe Pref- 
ents Bargaine and Sell unto" Triftram Coffin, Thomas IMacy, Rich'! 



4() THE COFFIX F.UnLY. 

.Swiiyiie, Thoiuas lUTuanl. .lolm Swayiie, Mr. 'riiuiiias .Maylunv, l^hvard 
Starbuck, Vvtvr CotHn, -laiiu's ('ottin, Ste[)hoii (rrefuU'atb, 'rriftrani 
Coffin .lull'', 'riioiuas C'ok'inaii, liohcrt lU'niar<]. ChriftopluT llutt'rv, 
Robert Tike, John SinytlR', and .lolin liishoj), tlR'l'i.' \\hn\t\s ol' XinifitcJ,-rft, 
naiiu'ly, all y Weft end of y^ atbivt'i Itland unto y rond coniouly callcil 
WiKliiithiijiKitj, and iVom y Head of that J'oud to y^' Xorth lidV of y^^ 
Ithuid .}f(ni((/i/(>// ; bounded ])y a I'ath from y*^' lle:ul of y^' Pond aforefaid 
to M(iiitnii(>!i : as alfo a Xeck at y*^^ Eaft End of y itland called I'rxiiiD- 
inor/,-, wtii tile Property thereof, and all y^-' Koyaltyies, Prhiledii'es, and 
Iniiiinuityes thereto belouofhii:-, or whatfoever Uiu'ht I y^' aforef i Wan- 
ackniak have, oi- have had in y Same: That is. all y Lands afore- 
ineiiconed and likewife y Winter tieed of y whole Itland from y^ End 
of an Indyan ihirvelt iintill Plantinu' Time, or y tirft of .May, from 
Yeare to Yeare for ever; as likt'wife Liberty to make Lfe of AN'ood and 
Timber on all Parts of y- Illand: and likewife Ilalfe of the Meadows 
and .^L^rifhes on all Parts of y Itland, w^'out or beside y aforef'' Tracts 
of J.,and purehafed ; And likewife y life of y^' other JLili^ of y Meadows 
and Marifhes on all Parts of y^ Itland, wti^uut or l)eside y^' aforef'^ Tracts 
of Land purehafed; And likewife ye ufe of yc other Ilalfe of yi= .Meadows 
and .Marithes, as louu' as y' aforefaid Enalitli their lleyres and .Vltigncs 
live on y^ Itland: And likewife i the aforefaid WaiKirlcuKdiiarh- doe fell 
unto y Enu'lifh aforemenconed y propriety of y reft of y^' Illand belong'- 
inu" unto nn'e, for and in contideracon of tlburty Pounds already received 
by mee or other 1)V my Consent or OixU'. To Have and to Hold, y 
aforef^i Tracts of Land w^^ y- P'priety, Royalties, Immunityes, Prive- 
leo'cs and all Appertenances thereunto belong'inu' to them y aforef Pur- 
chaf''« their lleyres and Affignes forever. 

In Witni'fs Whereof, 1 the aforefi Wanackmamack have hereunto fett 
my Hand and Scale y^^^ Day and Yeare alcove Avritteii. 

The Signe of "^Vaxack-ma.mack. 
>5i<Xned, Sealed and Delivered in y pifence of 

Pi:ti:u lM)L:L(ii:r;. 

Ei.EA/.r.i; FouL(rEi;, 

DoKCAS STAliliUt'K. 



Indian Rercipt for La ml — Jteceipt of Wctn<irliniiiiach-. 

[Nantucket Records, Old P.ook, Page 27.] • 

lleccived of Tristram Coffin, of Xantuckct, the Just sum of five 
])oun, which is part of the seven ponnd that was unpaid of the Twenty 
pound Purchase of Land, that was purchased of Wanackmanack and 
Neckanoosi'. that is to say. from Monomoy to Wa({ui'tta([uage pond, 
Nanahumack neck, and all from Wesco westward to the ^Vest end of 
Xantucket, 1 say. Received by me, Wanackmamak, of Tristram Coffin, 
live pounds Starling, the ISth II ni, KiTl. 

the X mark of 
Wanacicmaafak. 
Witness hereunto : 

RiClIAKI) (L\Kl)Ni:i!, 
ElKZKK Fi)I.(!KU. 



THE COFFIN FAMILY. 47 

Tii-o Jji'Ifcrs or Cert ijit-iitcs from the lulidhltinifs of X<i ni i'<'l,( t . 
[Di'rds iii, .")S, St'crc-tury's omcv. Albany.] 

Rocoi-(k'(l for y>' albivlaid .Mr. CofHn and Mr. .Macy, '2 lAws on Ct-i-titi- 
catcs, from v^^' Inliabitaiits of Xaiittickctt, as followcth, vi/.f. 

WiiKKK.^s v Iloii''!'' Coll: Lovchu't'. (iovenioiir of N\'\v Yorkc, i;ave 
forth liis Sumii'ions for y^- inhabitants of y^ Ilic of Nantucki'tt to make 
their Ajipcaranco before his Jlono^' at New Yorke, eitiu'i- in tlieir (jwii 
rcrfon or by their Ao:ent, to fhew their Claynies in retpeet to their Staiul- 
iiiir or Clayine of Jntereft on yi- afoi-efaid Itland. Now Avee whofe Names 
are nnderwritt(.'n having' intrnfted our tfathei- 'i'riftram Cotiin to make 
Anfwer for us, AVee doe Empower our Ifather Triftram Collin to act and 
doe for lis w*'' y« IIoiu^ Covorn'" Lovelace, foe far as is ,Iuft and IJeason- 
abU'. wtii Ueuard to our liiti'reft, on y !th' of Xciil iickctl and Tiirlt-d- 
iiiirkctl . 

Witnefs our Hands yi-' L^i^ l)ay of y fourth Month, lixteen hundred and 
feventy-one. KiTl. 

.Lv:\iF.s Coi-i-iN. 

Xath.\mki. Stau'iuck. 

John CnriiN, 

Stkimikn Cofkin. 

This is to Siii-nify that ye Inhabit;ints oi Xantiivkilt have chofen ]\lr. 
Thomas Macy their Aiicnt to Treat w^"^ y^" Ilonijie CoH ; Lovelace conceni- 
ino- ye Atl'ayres of y^' Itiand. to Act for them in their Ijchalfe and Stead, 
and in all Conlideracons to doe what is necetfary to be done in reference 
to V I'remifes, as if they themfelves were rerfoually ]ii-efent. 
Witnefs tlieir Hands, dated .June ."itl^, 1(J71. 

Ei>w.\Hi) SrAiir.icK, 
I'l/rKK Fi"(>ri.(ii:i;, 
•John Kf>i.i'K. 

The Inhabitants aforef^^ doe also in y^ name of y- rest, delire Mr. 
Triftram Cottin to aflift their aforefii .Vlient what hee can in y matter or 
Bufynefs concerning' y^^ Itlaiid Xantuckctt. 

Froiiofiih to ii<^ dorcrnor from //e I iilKihita nts of Xoiil iicl,( II oboiit * 

setllliKj thai (rorcriniK'nt. 

[Deeds iii, .■>!*, Secretary's Ottice.] 

Imprimis, Wee humbly propofe ljil)erty for y^' hihalntants to chufc 
annually a .Man or ]\Ieu tobc Chiefe in ye (iovernm*, and chofiMi or ap- 
pointed by his Honor to Stand in place, conftantly invefted w^^ J'ower of 
Contirmacon by Oath or Engauem*, or otherwife as his Hono^ fhall ap- 
point, one to be Chiefe in ye Cort und to have ]\la!Xit'traticall Fowi'r at 
all times wti^ regard to ye Peace and other necetfary Contiderac(jns. 

2'y. Wee take for fjranted yt ye Lawes of Enaland are Standard of 
Governmt, foe farre as wee know them, and are fuitable to our Condicon ; 
yet Avee humbly propofe that ye Inhabitants may have ToAver to Confti- 
tute fuch Law "or Ord^'s as are" neceft'ary and fuitable to o'' Condicon not 
repuijnant to ye Lawes of England. 

;)''y. In point of carryini;; on ye (Jovernmt from Time to Time, wee 
are Avillinpj to joyne Avith o^ Neiirhbof Itland ye Vineyard, to keep to.i«ether 
one Coi't everV Yeare, one Yeare at or Illand, ye next wti" them. an<I 



48 THE COFFIN FAMILY. 

Po^ver at Home to End all Cafes not exceeding 20 lb ; And in ail cafes 
Liberty of Appeale to ye Genm Cort in all Actions above 40 lb. And in 
all Actions amountino- to ye valine of 100 lb Liberty of Appeale to his 
Highnefte his Coit ut ye C'itty of Xew York ; And iii Capitall Cafes, or 
fuch Mattrs as concernc Life, Limbe. or Banifhm*. All Inch cases to l)e 
tryed at New Yorke. 

4. And feeling- ye Iud,yans are numerons among ns, Wee propofc 
that or Governmt ihay Extend to them, and Power to' Snmmon them to 
our Corts wtii respect' to Mattes of Trefpafs l)e])t, and other IVIifcarriages, 
and to Trj- and Judge them according to Lawes, when publifhed amongft 
them. 

And Laftly, fome Military Power committed to us, refpecting our 
Defence, cither in refpect of Indyans or Strarigrs invadcing, &c. 

The Aufwer to //« jS'dntiirket Propofals. 
[Deeds iii, (JO, >Secretary's Office.] 

At a Councell held at Forte James Ih New York, ye 28*1^ day of June in 
ye ^^d Yeare of his Mamies Reigne, Annoq Dom. llill 

In Anfwer to y^ Propofalls Delivered in by Mr. Coffin and Mr. INIacy 
on ye behalf of themfelves and ye reft of ye inhabitants upoii ye Ifland 
JSTantuckett ; The Governor and Councell doe gi^-e their liefolucons as 
followeth, vizt. 

Imprimis, As to ye tirft Branch in their Proposalls, It is thought titt 
yt ye Inlialjitauts doe annually recomend two Perfons to the Governor, 
out of weii hee will Nominate one to be ye (Ihiefe ISIagiftrate upon that 
Ifland, and ye Itland of Turk-ani'ckeff near adjacent for ye Yeare enfue- 
ing : who fhall by Commiffion bee Invcfted with PoAver accordingly. 

That ye Time Avhcn fuch a INIagiftrate fhall Enter into his Employmt 
after ye Expiracon of this tirft Yeare, fhall Commence upon ye l;>th jay 
of October, being his Royall Ilighnefs his Birthday, to continue for ye 
Space of one whole Yeare, and that thej' Keturne ye Names of ye two 
Perfons they fhall recommend three months before that Time to ye Goa'- 
crno»'. 

That ye Inhal)itts have Power by a Major Vote annually to Elect and 
Chufe their inferior Officers, Ijoth Ci'sill and Military ; That is to fay, ye 
Affiftants, Conftablcs, and other Inferior Officers, for ye Civill Governm*, 
and fuch inferiour Offices for ve Militarj'" as fhall l)e thouoht needfull. 

2iy. The fecond Propofall is allowed of; That they'fhall have Lib- 
erty to make peculiar Lawes and Ord^s at their Geni"'i Coi"' for the well 
Governmt of y^ Inhabitts ye wch fhall ])ee in force amongft them for one 
whole Yeare ; Dureing w°h Time if noe Inconvenience doe appeare 
therein. They are to Transmitt the faid Lawes or Ord's to ye Governoi' 
for his Contirmacon. Ilowevi", They are (as neare as may Iwa) to con- 
forme themfelves to ye Lawes of England, and to be very Cautious they 
doe ]iot Act in any way repugnant to them. 

.'jiy. To ye 3<i, It is Granted, That they joyne wtii their Neighboi's of 
3farfm\s Vineyard in keeping a Gen»''i Co^'t between them once a Yeare, 
ye fd Oort to be held one Yeare in one Ifland, and ye next in ye other, 
Avhere ye Chiefe INIagistrate in each Ifland where the Co^'t fhall be held, 
is to prflde, and to Sitt in their refpective Gov'ts as Prefid*, but withall 
That upon all occattons hee Confuel and Advize wtii ye Chiefe Magistrate 
of ye other Ifland. 



THE COFFIN FAMILY. 49 

That ye laid Geui'ii Cort fhall couflft of ye two Chiefe IVIa.ii-it'trates of 
both Wands, and y*' foure Affiftants, where .ye Pretid* fhall have a (Jaftiug- 
Voyce ; for ye Time of their JMeetiug, That it bee left to themfelvcs to 
Agree upon ye nioft convenient Seaibn of ye Yeare. 

That in their Private C'ort^ at Ilonie, ^y'^^ are to be held by ye Chiefe 
^hi2.-iftrate and two Athftts where \" Chiefe ^lau-iftrate fhall have but a 
tingle Voyce, They fhall have Power finally to determine and decide all 
Cafe.>^not exceeding ye Valine of 5 11). wthont Appeale, Init in any Sume 
above that Valine. They have Lit.)erty of Appeale to their Cenii Cor* who 
may determine abfohitely any Cafe uiuler oO lb. without Appeale, but if 
it i^'hall exceed that Sume, ye Party aggrieved may have Recourfe by way 
of Appeale to ye (JenrH Co''* of Attizes, held in New Yorke. 

And as to Criminal Cafes, That they have Power both at their Private 
Coi'ts at Home, as well as at ye (ieni''^ Co^t, to inflict Punifhmt on Oft'endfs 
foe farre as Whipping, Stocks, and Pilloring, or other Publick Shame. 
But if ye Crime happen to ))ee of a higher nature, where Life, Liml)c, or 
Banif hment are concerned. That fuch Mattes be Tranfmitted to ye Creui"!! 
Co^t of Atiizes likewife. 

4. In Anfwr to ye Ith^ it is loft to themfelvcs to Ord^ thofe Attayres 
about yo Indyans, and to Act therein according to their l>eft diferctioiis, 
foe farr as Life is not concerned ; Wherein they are also to have Recoxirfe 
to New Yorke, but that they bee carefuU to ufe fuch moderacon amongft 
them. That they bee not exafperated, Ijut by Degrees may ho brought to 
be conformable to ye Lawes : To w'^^ End, They are to Nominate and 
appoint Conftables' amongft them who may have Staves w"i ye Kings 
Amies upon them, the 1)etter to keep their People in Awe and good Orcb', 
as is practized ^^'^^ good succefs amongft ye Indyans at ye Eaft end of 
Long Ifland. 

To ye Laft, That they returne a Lyft of ye Inhabitants, as alfo ye 
Names of two Perfons amongft them ; out of whom ye Goveruoi" will ap- 
point one to bee their Chiefe ISIilitary Officer, That they may be in ye 
better capacity to Defend themfelvcs againft their Enemyes, whether 
Indyans or others. 

JSl:fntucket Ajfai/ren. 
[Deeds iii, 85, Secretary's Office.] 

Additionall Inftructions and Directions for the Government of the Ifland 
Nantuckett, lent bv Mr. Richard and Capt. Jno. Gardner, Aprill ye 
LSth, 167;l. 

Imprimis, That in regard ye Towue upon ye Ifland of NanfucTiett 
is not known by any peculiar or particular Name. It fhall from hence- 
forth bee called and diftinguifhed in all Deeds, Records and Writings b}' 
the Name of the Town of Sherborne npoii the Ifland jSFantiickett. 

That all Ancient and 01)foletc Deeds, Grants, Writings, or Convey- 
ances of Lands upon the laid Ifland, fhall bee efteemed of noe ftbrce or 
Validity, ])nt the Records of everyones Clayme or Intereft fhall beare 
Date from the firft Divulging of the Patent granted to the Inhabitants by 
Authority of his Royall ilighnefte, and foe forward, but not before the 
Date thereof. 

That the Time of Election of the Chiefe ISIagiftrate, and other Civill 
Officers, bee and continue according to the Directions and Inftructions 
already given, but in regard of the Diftance of the Place, and ye uncev- 



50 THE COFFIN FA:\nLY. 

tainty of Conveyance l^etwixt that and this Place, ye Chiele Magistrate, 
and all the Civi'll Otlicers fhall coiitinue in their Employmts untill the 
Returnc of the Govei'noi's Choice and Approbacon of a new ^Magistrate 
bee fent unto them, Avhich is to be with the tirst convenient Opportunity. 

That in cafe of Mortality, if it fhall pleafe God, the Chiefe Magis- 
trate fhall dye before ye Expiration of his Employment, the Afflftants 
for the Time lacing fhall manage and carry on y Atfayres of the Pulilic 
untill the Time of the new Election, and ye Governors Returne ai^^ Ap- 
probation of a new Magiftrate in his Stead. 

That the Chiefe Military Oliicer fhall continue in his Employm* dur- 
ing the Ciovernoi's Pleafure, and that he have Power to appoint fuch Per- 
fons for inferior Ottiecrs as he fhall judge molt litt and capable. 

That in Cafe of the Death of the Chiefe ]\Iilitary Otticer during the 
Time of his Employment, that then the Inhabitants doe forthwith make 
Choice ol two Per'fons, and returne their Names unto the Governour. 
who will appoint one of them to bee the Office]- in his Stead. 

That in regard to ye (ienerall Co'^'t to ])ee held in ye Itland Nantucke'tt 
or JTarfin^s Vineyard is but once in ye Yeare, where all Causes or Ac- 
tions are tryable Avithout Apeale to ye Sume of tifty Pounds. Liberty bee 
granted to try all Actions of Debt or Trefpass at their ordinary Courts 
to the value of ten Pounds without Appeale, uidefs upon Occatlon of 
Error in ye Proceeding there bee Caufe of Complaint from ye ordinary 
Court unto tlie Generall Court, or from the (jenan Court to the Court of 
Affixes. 

That what is granted in the Generall Patent to the Inhabitants, Ifree- 
holders, of the Itland JV^coiti/cJcetf is to bee underftood, unto them alone 
who live ui)on the Place and make Improvem* thereof, or fuch others 
who having Pretences of Intereft fhall come to Inhabitt there. 
Given under my Hand at Fort James, in New York the Day and Yeare 

afore written ; and in y^ 25th Yeare of his Mamies Reigne. 

Decifion of a Court, of Admiralty held at Nantucket. 

[New York Colonial MSB, xxix, Sec. Office.] 

At a Court oi' Admiralty, held at the Iflaud of Nantuckett ye twenty-eighth 
day of Auguft, by his Maties Athority, hi the thirty-fecond Yeare of 
the Keiagiie of our Sovereigne Lord King Charles the Second, and iu 
the Yeare of our Lord on thoufand llx hundred and eighty. 

Prefeut, Capt^ Cefar Knapton, 

Captn Richard Hall, 

Ml- John Weft, 

Cap* John Gardner, Magiftrate. 
Mr. Triftrani Coffin, late Magiftrate, beiug called to give an Accoumpt of 
what was fixued out of the Rack of a Freuch Ship, caft away on this Iflaud by 
fonie of Capt. Bernard Lamoyn's Men, about the latter Part of the Yeare 
feveuty-eight, declared he had formerly giueu an Accoumpt, which beiug pro- 
ducetl and read, it appeared that thare ware fauect out of the faid Rack two 
thoufand and fixteen Ilydes, which he coufeft'etli are difpofed of by his Order, 
Alowance and Aprobatiou, and by luformatiou giuen, we valleu at fouer Shil- 
lings per Hyde, which amounts toe fouer hundred and three Pounds fouer 
Shillings; and alfo ouc Cable and a Pece, likewife fold by the faid Triftram 
Coffin at forty fouer Pounds ; and one Sayle at tix Pounds ten Shillings ; and 
two Pecis of Hafers at cleueu Pounds, and an Aucker at thirteen Pounds ; 
whicli iu all amounts toe fouer hundred feventy-feuen Pounds fourteen Shil- 
lings, for which no Claime hath bin made according to Law. 



THE (OFFIX FA?.ITLY. 51 

This Court thnreforc, takiiiii' into CoiWderation tlic Allowance of Sal- 
■va2;e of laid Goods, and vndcrftauding the l^ifeculty and Hardfhii) the Sauers 
endnred, doe alow on tift]i Part tliareof for Salvage, according to Law, 
which araoimts toe ninety-five Pounds ten Shillings And for what was dif- 
buried by the faid Tristram Coffin on Accounipt of foiiie Duch Prift'oiiers left 
one the Illand, and what was paid by him to William Worth, for his Wound, 
forty Pound one Shilling. In all, on hundred thirty-five Pounds eleauen 
Shillings; which being deducted out of the faid Sum of fower hundred fev- 
enty feanen Pounds fourteen Shillings. They doe adjudge and determine 
that tlie faid Coffin tloe make Payment and Sattisfaction toe the Gouernor or 
his Order, on Accoumpt of his lloyall Ilighnefs to whom Iw Law it doth ap- 
pertain the Remainder of of the faid Sum, being three hundred forty-three 
Pounds ten Shillings. And as for what Guns or Rigting or other Things 
that are vndifpofed of, toe be apprifed and Salvage to be alowed as aboue, 
and to be lent to New York for his Royall Highuefe vfe, tlie Salvage toe be 
lickwife paid by the faid (^offin, to be deduckted out of the three hundred 
fouvty-three Pounds ten Shillings. They Court lickewife declare thare 
•Opinion tliat the faid Coffin's Actings Proceedings in difpofing of the faid 
•Goods, are contrary to Law. 

By Order of the Court, <ic. 

William Wouth, Clerk. 

Tristram Coffin to Sir Edmond Andros. 

[New York Colonial MSS, xxix, Sec. Office.] 

To the Right Honrabell Scr Edmund Audros, Knight, Sigueur of Safmar- 
yoe, Lieut. Generall vnder his Royall Hynes James Duke of York and 
Albany, and Goueruor Generall of all his lioyall Hynes Territorys iu 
America. Thefe Prefent. [External Scale ftamped with a Pine Tree 
Shilling.] 

Nantuckett, SOtii of Auguft, 1080. 
Right lloncrabell Sir : 

My humbell Service prefented vnto your Excellencye hurablie f hewing 
my hartie Sorow y* I f hould :u any way giue your Exelency juft occfvtiou of 
Offence, as I now plainly fee, in actinge co'Hrary to the Law, as I am con- 
uiuced I did, throw Ignorance in regard of not beiuge acquainted with the 
maretirae Lawes, and yet I humblie intreat your Exelency to conflder yt in 
on Refpect my v/eeackncfs I liope may bee a littell born with : for I did tender 
diuerfe Perfons the on halfe to faue the other halfe, and I could not get any 
to doe it ; and for the Hides I could not get any to goe hut for to tacke all for 
their Labor, becaufe it was judged by many yt the Aveare not worth the fau- 
iug ; fo I was nefefetated to doe as I did or elfe the had bin quite loft. Tluxre- 
fore I humblye intreat your Exceleucy not to think y* I did it for any bye Re- 
fpects or felfe Ends ; for I doe affure your Exceleucy yt theare was not any 
ou Perfon yt did indent with me for any on Shillinge Profflt, only I did tell 
foure of them y* if I f hould bee by any cal'd to accot, tlie f hould bee accounta- 
bell to me. But now the will not owne it and I can not prone it, fo I by Law 
am cauft to beare all, only my hop is yt your Exceleucy will bee pleafed out 
of your Leniency and Fauor to me to except of int IMoney, and Bill is fent 
for the anfweriuge of the Judgment of the Court : for had not my Sonu, 
James Coffyn borrowed Money and ingaged for the reft of my Bill, I could 
not have done it, but I muft have gone to Prifon. Now I humblye intreat 
your Excelency to heare my louinge Nighbor, Capt John Gardner, in my be- 
halfe, and wtii your Exelency fhall bee pleafed to order Concerning the Cafe, 
I fhall thankfulye except, knowing your Excelency to be a compaf honate, 

mercyeful Jlan. And I hop I fhall for Time to com to be more 

wifer and doe kept your Excelency's humbell Saruant whylft I line to my 
Power. TiiisrR.\M Cofii-yn. 



02 THE COFFIN FA^IILY. 

A Discliarrje to Mr. Tristram Coffin from the Judgm'^nt of the Court of Admi- 

raltfj Compounded. 

[Warrants, Orders, Paffes, &c., xxii 1-2, 9, Secretary's Office.] 

By the Governor : 

These are to Certitle that I doe approve aud allow of the Compofltion 
aud Agreemt made botvveeu Capt. Cti?far Kiiaptoii, Capt. liichard Hall, Capt. 
John Gardner, aud J[r. John Weft, who were authorized to make Enquirj- 
ab* the Wreck of a French f hip caft away on the Iflaud of Nautuckett iu 
one thoufand tix hundred feveut}' and eight, and ]Mr. Triftram Coffin, then 
Chiefe Magiftrate of the faid Ifland. concerning the fame, for the fume of 
one hundred and lifty Pouud, halfe of ^vhich is payd ; aud ou paym* of the 
other halfe, fecured by^lis Souu's Obligacou, I doe accept the fame in full 
Satisfaction aud hereby acquitt aud difcharge the fixid Truftram Coffin from 
the Judgmt giueu agaiuft him iu the Court of Admiralty, ou Account of faid 
Wreck. 

Given under my Haud iu New Yorke, the fixth Day of November, 1G80. 

E. A. 



DESCENDANTS OE TIUSTIIAM AND D TUNIS. 

Hon. Petek Coeeix, eldest child of Tristram and Dionis, was l)orn 
at Brixton, County of Devon, Engiand, in IGol. Ho married Abigail, 
daugliter of Ed^vard and Katlicrine Starbuck, of Dover, X. H., after- 
wards of Nantuclvct. He "was one of tlie original purchasers of Xan- 
tucket, and tradition sajs the wealthiest of them, owning large mill 
property. He was a merchant at Dover before the purchase, and subse- 
(picntly li^'od at Xantucket, but only for a short time to be considered as 
domicHed there. He Avas made freeman in 1(36G, at Dover: a Lieutenant 
in 1G75, on service in King Philip's Indian war ; a Representative in the 
Legislative branch in IGJ-i-.') and again in 1G7'J. In KiDO he removed to 
Exeter, X. II. From 1G92 to 1714 he was at dittereut times associate 
justice and chief justice of the Stiprcme Court of Xew Hampshire, and 
a member of the Governor's Council. He died at Exeter, March 21, 
17irj, but most of his life was passed at Dover. 

In administering the functions of his se^'cral otficial positions there 
arose many (prestions of grave importance, and one which, as a judge, 
has been handed doAvn as a specimen of religious persecution. The 
Reverend Joshua ^Sloodey had gathered a church at Portsmouth, X. II., 
and distinguished himself as an independent preacher. One of his 
parishioners had been interested in seizing and carrying out of the 
harbor a Scotch ketch [a hea-sy ship] and upon trial hail SAVorn falsely, 
but the Lieutenant GoAcrnor, Crantleld, at the head of the proA'inee, had 
adjusted the matter A\'ith the oftender and discharged him. But pastor 
jNIoodey took it u^) and called church meetings upon the subject, Avhicli 
irritated (iov. Crantield, and Moodey ^vas indicted under the uniformity 
act ill IG.s-l, and Imprisoned thirteen Aveeks, aud then dismissed Avith the 



THE COFFIN FA^^IILY. 53 

charge to preach no more uiulcr penalty. He was advised to leave 
Portsmouth and preached in the old church at Boston for a time after- 
ward. And in WJ:), he ]-eturned to Portsmouth and commenced preach- 
iuo- a^'ain, when he was again arrested. Peter Cotttii was one of the 
judges wliich convicted him, and in his own language ]\Ioodey thus 
pours out his vials of wrath as copied from his records and i)ul»lished 
in Mass. Hist. Societvs Coll., vol. x, p. 44, ISOI) : 

" The judge of the court was [captaiu of the fort] Walter Baretoot, the 
justices I\[r. Fryer, Peter Coffin, Thomas Edgerlj, Henry Green, and Henry 
Robey. Overnight, four of the six dissented from his imprisonment: Init, 
before next morning, Peter Coffin, being liectored 'by Cranfield, drew olf 
Kobey and Green. Only Mr. Fryer and Edgerly refused to consent, but by 
the m;>jor part lie was committed. Not long after. Green repented and made 
his acknowledgment to the pastor, who frankly forgave him. Ixobey was 
excommunicated out of Hampton church for a couunon drunkard, and died 
excommunicate, and was by his friends thrown into a liole, near his house, 
for fear of an arrest of liis carcase. Barefoot fell into a languishing dis- 
temper, whereof he died. Coffin was taken by the Indians and his house and 
mills burnt, himself not slain but dismissed. The Lord give him repentance, 
though no sign of it have appeai-ed. Psalm ix. IG." 

His election as one of the nuigistrates of Nantucket under a period 
of great excitement has been before alluded to. The carh' records of 
Nantucket are frequently devoted to transactions of Peter Cotlin, in the 
purchase and sale of land, and of gifts and gi'ants to his children, and 
would be interesting to reproduce iji a lai'ger Avork. The lumber foi- his 
son Jethro's house, now the oldest house standing on Naiitucket, Avas 
the product of one of his mills. His children: , 

Abigail, b. Oct. 20, 1C.j7; m. Dec. Ki, lt'»To, Daniel Davidson, of Ipswich, 
afterwai'ds of Newburv- 

Peter, Jr., b. Aug. 20, lOGO; m. Aug. 15, 1682, Elizabeth, d. of Nathaniel 
and 3Iary Starbuck; d. in Nantucket in 1^99. 

Jethro, b. Sept. 10, 1G63; m. Mary, d. of Hon. John and Priscilla Gard- 
ner; d. in 172G. 

Tristram, b. Jan. 18, 1605; m. Deborali C'olcord. 

Robert, b. in 1GC7; ra. Joanna, daughter of Hon. John Gilnian, of Exeter, 
N. H., widow of Henry Dyer; d. May 19, 1710; No issue. 

Edward, b. Feb. 20, 1GG9; m. .Vnna, d. of Hon. John and Priscilla 
Gardner. 

Judith, b. Feb. 4, 1G72. 

Parnell, died in infancy. 

Elizabeth, born Jan. 27, 1G80; m. June •>, 1G9S, Col. John Gilman. of 
Exeter, N. II. ; d. July 4, 1720. 

Eliphalet, died single. 

TuiSTKAAi Coffin, Ji;., second child, was born in England, in KJo^. 
lie married in Newbury, ]\Iass., ]March 2, 1(152, Judith Somerby, widow 
of Henry, and daughter of Edmund and Sarah Greenleaf. Slie Avas born 
in 1625, and died in Newbury, Dec. 15, 1705. He Avas made freeman 
April 29, IGGH, and died in NcAvbury, Feb. 4, 1704, aged 72, leaving 177 
descendants. He Avas a merchant tailor, ami tilled many positions ot 



54 THE COFFIN FAiMILY. 

trust and honor in Newbury. The early records of Newbury bear evi- 
dence of his identity with the interests of that town. In the severe 
ecclesiastical contest concerning Rov. Thomas Parker, of Newbury, 
Tristram Cortin, Jr., bore a conspicuous part in the interest of Mr. 
I'arker, of whose tirst church of Newbury he was deacon for twentj^ 
years, lie built, about 1().')4, according to the historian of Ne\v])ury, the 
old C!offin mansion, Avhich has reniained in the family to the present day, 
one of the ninth generation born under its ample roof, IVIiss Anna L. 
Coffin, now occupying it. ^Ir. Thomas Coffin Amory, however, says that 
it was built in l(l4-!>, l)v Henry Somer])y,. whose "widow, it will be re- 
membered, Tristram Coffin, Jr., married. It is one of the few old houses 
left, and is l)uilt around a vast chimney stack with spacious fire-places, 
with AvindoAVs large and small opening in pleasant surprises, some on 
closets and some on staircases, ami with Avails that, when stri})ped of 
their papering not many years ago for the purpose of repapering, Avere 
found to display siich elegant landscape frescoes Avith artistic designs of 
figures and foliage as Avere Avont to decorate fine residences in the days 
of the Stuarts. It is a matter of tradition that Tristram Cottyn, senior, 
lived in this old mansion a short time l>efore ills final removal to Nan- 
tucket. 

Two monuments in the grave yard of the first parlslt of Newbury 
bear these several inscriptions: 

"To the memory of Tristram Coffiu, Esq., who having served the first 
church of Newbury in tiie ortice of a deacon 20 years died Fel). 4. 170')-4aged 
72 years. 

'• On earth he pui'chased a good dcgTee 

Great boldness in the faith and libei'ty 

And now possesses immortality." 

" To tlic memory of ]\Irs. Judith, late virtuous v/iic of Deac. Tristram 
Cohin, Es(i., who, luiviug lived to see 177 of hei- children and cluUlreu's chil- 
dren to the ;)d generation, died J^cc. 15, 1705, a;>;ed 80. 

'■ Giave, sober, faithful, fruitful vine was she, 

A rare example of true piety. 

Widow'd awhile slie v.'ayted wisht-for rest, 

^Vith hci- dear husbaud in her Saviours breast." 

Tristram -Juniors cliildreu: 

Judith, b. in Newbury. Mass., Dec. 4, 105:!; in. Jolia Sanborn, of Haniii- 

ton, X. 11., Nov. 1!), 1674. 
Deborah, b. in Newbury, Nov. 10. lO.'o; ui. Joseph Knight, Oct. yi, 1677. 
Mary, b. in Newbury, Nov. 12. 1557; m. Joseph Little, Oct. ;)1, 1(!77. 
James, b. in Newbury, April 22, 1G5;) : m. Florence Hookc, Nov. 10, 1085. 
John, b. in Newbury". Sept. s. 1000: d. there Mav 13, 1077. 
Lydia, b. in Newbury, .^)ril 22, 1602; m. 1st, Moses Little; 2d, March 

IS, 1095, Joiin Pike. 
Enoch, b. in Newbury, Jau. 21, lOii;]: d. there Nov. 12, 1075. 
Stephen, b. in Newburv, Aug. 18, 1004; m. Sanili Atkinson, Oct. 3, 10S5 j 

d. Aug. .".1, 1725. 



THE COFFIN F.NJNIILY. 55 

Peter, b. iu Xewburv, July 27, 16(;7; m. Appliia Dole: d. in Gloucester, 

(?) Jan. 19, 1746. ' 
Nathaniel, Hon., b. in Newburv, March 22, 1G(39; m. Sarah Dole, March 

29, 1«93 ; d. Feb. 20, 1748-9. " 

Elizabeth Cokkix, third child, was born in Enalund, about IGoJ-o. 
She married, in Newbury, Nov. 13, 1651. Capt. Stephen (ireenleaf, i^on 
of Edmund. She died at Newbury, Nov. IS), 1(578. He died Dec. 1, 1(590. 
From this family have descended the flreenleafsof NcAvEnaland, amono: 
whom have been many ripe scholars, eminent as jurists, teachers and 
divines. Their children were : 

Stephen Greeuleaf, b. Aug. L".. 1(;.J2; m. Oct. 23, 1676, Elizabeth Gerrish, 
dan. of William. 

Sarah Greenleaf, b. Oct. 29, 16.5.J ; m. June 7, 1677, Richard Dole, of New- 
bury, sou of Kichard. 

Dauiel Greenleaf b. Feb. 17, 1658. 

Elizabeth Greenleaf, b. April 9, 1660: m. I(i77, Thomas Noyes, sou of 
James. 

John Greeuleaf, b. June 21. 1662; m. Oct. 12, 1685, Elizabeth Hills. 

Samuel Greeuleaf, b. Oct. oO, 1665: m. March 1, 1689, Sarah Keut, dau. 
of John. 

Tristram Greeuleaf, b. Feb. 11, 1668: m. Nov. 12, 1689, Margaret Piper. 

Edmund Greenleaf b. May 10, 1670: m. July 2, 1691, Abigail Soraerby, 
dau. of Abiel. 

Judith Greenleaf b. Oct. 13, 1673; d. Sept. 30, 1690. 

^lary Greeuleaf, b. Dec. 6, 1676; m. Joshua Moody, son of Caleb. 

Hex. Jajies Cokkix. the fourtli child, was boru iu England, Aug. 
12, 1640. He married, Dec. o, 1663, Mary, daughter of John and Abigail 
Severance, of Salisbury, IMass. : and died at Nantucket, July 28, 1720, 
aged SO years. He came to Nantucket with the first settlers, hut subsc- 
(luently removed to Dover, N. H., where he resided in 1668, being a 
member of the church there in 1(571, and the same year. May 31, he was 
there made freeman. Soon after this date, however, he returned to Nan- 
tucket and resided there until his death. He filled several important 
public otfices at Nantucket, among them Judge of the Probate Court. 
The first records of the Probate Oflicc are under his administration. He 
was the lather of fourteen children, all of whom, e.Kcept two, grew to 
maturity and married. From him have descended, perhaps, the most 
remarkable representatives of the Cottin family, as doubtless the most 
numerous and generally scattered. This branch furnished the families 
that remained loyal to Great Britain in the American Revolution, and 
General John Cottin, as well as his brother. Admiral Sir Isaac Cotttu, 
rendered valiant service against the Colonies, for which they received 
in time their rewards, two sons of Gen. John now holding Admiral's 
commissions in the Royal Navy, one aged 88 and the other 84 years, 
both hale and heartv when last heard from. The nrost distinguished 



56 THE COFFIN FA^^IILY. 

woman which Aineric;i has produced, Lucrctia ]Mott, Avas also descended 
from this line, her father, Thomas C'ottin, beiufi^ the 17th child of Benja- 
min, and not the youngest, either. The children of James are : 

Mary, b. in Nantucket, April IS, ICGo ; married first, Ilicbard Pinkham, 
of Portsmoutli, N. H., who came from the Isle of Wight, and died in 
Nantucket iu 1718; second, James, son of Richard and Sarah Gardner: 
d. ill Nantucket, Feb. 1, 1711. 

James, Jr., b. probably in Dover, N. H. ; m., first. Love, dau. of Richard 
and Sarah Gardner; second, Ruth, dau. of John and Priscilla Gardner: 
d. in Nantucket, Oct. 2, 1741. 

Nathaniel, b. in Dover, 1*371; m. Aug. 17, 1G92, Damaris, dau. of AVm. 
Gayer; d. Aug. 29, 1721. 

John, b. in Nantucket; ra. Hope Gardner, dau. of Richard; d. there Julv 
1, 1717. 

Dinah, b. in Nantucket; in. Nov. 20, IG'JO, Nathaniel Starbuck, Jr.: d. 
there Aug. 1, 1750. 

Deborah, b. in Nantucket; m. Oct. 10, 1G95, George Bunker, son of 
\Vm. ; d. there Oct. 8, 17(:7. 

Kbenezer. b. iu Nantucket, March 30, 1G78; m. Dec. 12, 1700, Eleanor, 
dau. of Nathaniel Barnard; died there Oct. 17, 17:50. 

Joseph, b. in Nantucket, Feb. 4, 1080; m. Bethia, dau. of John Macv ; d. 
there July 11, 1719. 

Elizabeth, b. iu Nantucket; m., first, Jonathan, son of \Vm. and Mary 
Bunker; second, Thomas Clark; d. there, March 30, 17(!9. 

Benjamin, b. in Nantucket, Aug. 28, 1083; lost overboard between Nan- 
tucket and Martha's Vineyard. 

Kuth, b. in Nantucket; m. Joseph, son of Richard and Mary Gardner: d. 
there, May 28, 1748. 

Abigail, b. in Nantucket; m. Nathaniel, sou of Richard and Sarah Gard- 
ner; d. there March 15, 1709, and was the first person buried in Gard- 
ner's burial ground. 

Experience, b. in Nantucket and died young. 

Jonathan, b. in Nantucket, August 28, 1G92; m. Ilephzibah, dau. of Eb- 
enezer Harker; d. there Feb. 5, 1773. 

John Coffin, tilth child, was born in England, and died in Haver- 
hill, Mass., Oct. 30, 1642, in infancy. 

Deborah Coffin, sixth child, Avas born in Haverhill, Nov. 16, 1642, 
and died there, Dec. 8, 1642, in infancy. 

Mary Coffin, .seventh child, was born in Haverhill, Feb. 20, 164o. 
She was married at the age of 17, to Xathauiel, son of Edward and 
Kathcrine (Reynolds) Starbuck; and died at Nantucket, Nov. lo, 1717. 
He died at Nantucket, the 2d day of the 2d month, 1719. Her eldest 
child, Mary Starbuck, born ]March 30, 1663, was the first white child 
born irpon the islaiul. From this family all of the Starbucks of 
America are descended. She was a most extraordinary woman, par- 
ticipating in the practical duties and responsibilities of public gath- 
cring.s and town meetings, on which occasions her words were alway.* 
listened to with marked respect. The genius of whatever attaches to 
the Eqvuxl Rights for Woman movement of the present day, in every 



THE COFFIN FA:MILY. 57 

true and proper sens^e, slie anticipated by tAVO centuries, and reduced to 
practice, without nejjlecting her domestic relations. Slie was consulted 
upon all matters of public importance, because her judgment was supe- 
rior, and she Avas universally acknowledged to be a great woman. It 
was not that her husband, Nathaniel Starbuck, was^ a man of inferior 
mould, that she gained such prominence, for he was a man oi good 
ability ; brit l)ccause of her pre-eminent qualitications that she acquired 
so good a reputation, whereby her husband's qualitications Avere appar- 
ently lessened. In the language of John Richardson, an early preacher. 
"The islanders esteemed her as a Judge among them, for little of mo- 
ment Avas done Avithout her." In the toAvn meetings Avhich she Avas ac- 
customed to attend, she took an actiA^e part in the debates, \isually com- 
mencing her address Avith " ]\Iy husband thinks'' so and so; or " ]\Iy 
husband and I, having considered the subject, think"" so and so. From 
CA'ery source of information, as also from tradition, there is abundant 
•evidence that she Avas possessed of sound judgment, clear understand- 
ing, and an elegant Avay of expressing herself perfectly easy and natu- 
ral to her. In 17U1, at the age of oh, she became interested in the re- 
ligious faith of the Quakers or Friends, and took the spiritual concerns 
of the Avhole island under her special superintendence. She held meet- 
ings at her OAvn house Avhich are often alluded to by A'isiting Friends Avho 
have Avritten concerning the island's earlj? religious history, Avrote the 
quarterly epistles, and preached in a most eloquent and impressiA'e 
manner ; and, Avithal, Avas as distinguished in her domestic economy as 
she Avas celebrated as a preacher. Of this department John Richardson, 
who preached at her hoiise, Avrote, " The order of the house Avas such in 
all the parts thereof, as I had not seen the like Ijefore ; the large and 
bright-rubbed room was set Avith suitable seats or chairs for a meeting, 
so that I did not see anything Avanting according to place, but something 
to stand on, fori Avas not free to set my feet upon the fine cane chair, 
lest I should break it." Enough might be Avritten concerning her to 
make an entertaining A'olume by itself, Avhich may some t'unv. ha at- 
tempted, ller children : 

Mary Starbuck, b. March 30, 1C03 ; in. James Gardner, son of liicliard : 

d. 1(590. 
Elizabeth Starbuck, b. Sept. 9, 1G05; m., first, Peter Coftin, Jr., son of 

Peter and Abigail (Starbuck) Coffin; second, Nathaniel Barnard, Jr.. 

son of Nathaniel. 
Nathaniel Starbuck, Jr., b. Aug. 9, 10(38; ni. Nov. 20, 1090, Dinah, 

daughter of James and Mary (Severance) Coffin; d. at Nantucket Jan. 

29, 1753. 
Jcthro Starbuck, 1). Dec. 14, 1071; m. Dec. 0, 1094, Dorcas, dan. of 

William and Dorcas (Starbuck) Gayer; d. Aug. 12, 1770. 
Barnabus Starbuck, b. 1073; d. 9th mo., 21, 1732, unmarried. 
Eunice Starbuck, b. April 11, 1074; m. George, son of John Gardner; d. 

12th of 2d mo., 1700. 



o8 THE COFFIN FAftllLY. 



I'riscill.-i Starbuck, 1). IGTfi; in. John, son of John Coleman; d. March 

U, 17G1'. 
noph//ib!ih Starbuck, b. April 2, 1(580; ni. Thomas Hathaway of Dart- 

Miouth ; u. Ttli of 2(1 mo., 1740. 
.Vnu, Oied siiifiie. 
raiil, died simjle. 



Lieut. John Coffin, eightli child (:i former John huviua' died), 
wa8 born at Haverhill, Oct. 80, 1G47. He married Deborah, daughter of 
Joseph and Sarah Austin ; and died at Edgartown. Mass., Sept. 5, 1711. 
From him the ^Martha's Vineyard Coffins are descended. He removed to 
Edu'artown after his father's death, about 1(382-."). He Avas elected to soiiie 
minor offices in Nantucket, and Avas at Eda'artown commissioned a Lieu- 
tenant of Militia. He had eleven children, junon2,' them Enoch, whoAvas 
chief judge for Dukes County, and Avho had ten children, all of AA'hom 
lived to the age of rising 7<i years, and six of the ten to aboA'e -SO, and 
two of them to 90, the most remarkable instance of family longeA'it\' yet 
discoA'cred. His children in order A\;ere : 

Lydia, b. in Nantucket, June 1. lOUi); m., first, John Logan; second, 

Jolin Draper; third. Thomas Thaxter of Hinirham. 
Peter, b. in Xantncket, Aug-. ■", 1(;71 ; m., lir.st. Christian Condy ; second, 

Hope. dau. of Joseph and Bethiah (Macv) Gardner; d. there Oct. 27, 

1749. 
John. Jr.. b. in Nantucket, Feb. 10. 1073. 
Love. b. in Nantucket. April 2;L lfi7G; died single. 
Enocii, b. in Nantucket, 1(178; ui. Beu'.ali P^ddy, about 1700; d. inFydgar- 

town in 17(51. 
Sanuiel, b. in Nantucket; m. Miriam Garduer, dau. of Richard, Jr., 1705; 

d. Feb. 22. 17G4. 
Ilaunah, b. in Nantucket; m. Beniamin Gardner, son of Richard, Jr.; d. 

Jan. 28, 17G8. 
Tristrau!. b. in Xriiitucket ; m. Mary Bunker, dau. of William, 1714; d. 

Jan. 2i>, 1763. 
Deborah, b. in Nantucket; m. June 18, 1718, Thomas Macy, son of John; 

d. Sept. 23, 17G0. 
Elizabeth, b. in Nantucket; died single. 
Benjamin, b. 8 mo., 23, 1GS3. 



SxF.i'iiEN Cf)FFiN, the youngest child, Avas born at NeAvbury. Mass., 
^[ay 10, 1(;.')2, and Avas :ii)out S years old AA'hen his father removed to Nan- 
tucket. He married ]Mary, dau. of George and Jane (Godfrey) Bunker 
about lOGS-D, and died at Nantucket. Nov. 14, 1734. For him, to a consid- 
erable extent, 'I'ristram reversed the old Englisli hiAV of leaving to the eldest 
son his lands and estates and gaA'e them to his youngest sou. Stephen 
:ipi)ears to iiavc remained upon his father's estate, and succeeded to the 
management of the tarm and general ])usiness cares, and Ijy agreement 
Avas to l)e helpful to his father and mother in their old age. He ha.d ten 
children, viz : 



THE COFFIN FAJMILY. .W 

Daniel, b. at Naiitiicket : d. i iiio., 172+— lost at soa. 

Dionls. I), at Nantucket Sept. 21, 1(171 ; m. Jacob Norton. 

retcr, b. at Nantucket Nov. U. KiT;!; ni. in Bo.ston. 

Stephen, Jr.. b. at Nantucket Feb. 20, Ifi'S : m. Kl'.t:!, Kxpericnce ].ook, 

dan. of Tlionia.*. 
Juditli. b. at Nantucket; ni.. first, Peter Folger. son of Kle/.er: second, 

Natlianiel IJarnard, son of Natlianiel; third. Stei)hen Wilcox; d. Dec. 

•2. 17(iO. 
Susanna, b. ;it Nantucket; ni. Peica; Bunker, son ofVv'iiliaui; d. June 

11, 1740. 
Mehitable, h. at Nantucket; ni. Arinstronj; Smith. 
Anna, I), at Nantticket : m. Solomon Gardner, son of Kicliard. 2tl ; d. 

.Vpril 22. 1740. 
Hephzibah, b. at Nantucket; m. Samuel GanJuer. 
Paul. b. at Nantucket April 1,"). k;;).') : ui. Marv Allen, dan. of Edward; 

d. April. 172!h 



BIOGFiAPJlIES AXJ) AXKCDOTKS OF DESOEXDAXTS. 

The biogTiiphical :uul :i:iecilotic;\i t'eutiux' of this pnbiiciitioii is uec- 
essarily abridged ou account of iusiifHcient time to properly urrange 
and print before the tirst reunion of Tristram's descendants At Nantuclcet, 
August lo, 17, and IS, 1881. As many of his descendants have achieved 
fame and gained :i just celebrity, it 'oecomes a matter of extreme deli- 
cacy to select from among so many the few that space will permit to be 
noticed in thisVork. Those given, however, are ])ut a fair representa- 
ti(jn of the many that might l)e, and which it is hoped some time will be, 
added to the biographies of Tristram C'ottyn\s descendants. 

(If.n. ,Foun ( 'oi-'FiN, of St. John's Xev; Bruaswiciv, w;is au elder 
brother of Sir Isaac. lie distinguished himself as a general in the Eng- 
lish army against the colonies; ^uid suljsetpiently took up his residence 
at St. John's, N. B. In the war of 181-, he again took up arms in defence 
of his country, having alw;tys remained loyal to (ireat Britain. At tlie 
close of the Ke^•olution he m;irried Annie, daughter of "William i^Iat- 
thews, of St. John'iS Island, South Ciirolina. Washington IrA'ing in his 
life of Washington, states that the advance on Eutaw by (Jen. Greene, 
supported l)y Gol. William Washington, Avas iiverted by I\laJor .Fohn 
< 'ottiu, with l.')(i infantry ;uul on cav;iiry. He was born at iioston, ^Nlass., 
in 17.")(i, and died ;it his residence in King's Co., Xcw Brunswick, on the 
12th of ^lay, 18;')8, aaed 82 years. His Avhole career was that of a vig- 
orous, conscientious unm of great ability. 

Admiu.vl Sii! I.s.vA(; CoFKix, Baronet, was of the fifth generation from 
Ti-ist]-;im and descended a.s follows: Tristrami, James'^, Xathiiniel'', 
^Villiam^, XathanieP, who marrietl Elizal)eth, daughter of Henry Barnes, 
')f Boston. He was the fourth son, and was born at Boston, Jiass., .Alay 
P), 17.V,». Entering the English N:ivy in 177;>, he was commissioned a 
Lieutenant, 1778; Captain, 1781 ; Bear Admiral of the White Scpiadron, 
1804: Baronet, and also granted ;i Coat of Arms the same year: 'N'ice- 
Adminu, 1808; and in isi7 Admiral. He tiled at Clieltenham, England.. 
in 18-J9, aged 80 years, witliout issue. 



60 THE COFFIN FA:\IILY. 

lie was iiwardcd iin estate by the Governnieut of Eno-laud, known us 
the ]\Iagdelen Islands, at the month of the 8t. Lawrence River, abont 
the time he Avas created a Baronet. lie was a personal friend of the 
.Duke of Clarence, who. when he became William IV., continned to 
show him favor. When it became necessary', in 18;)2, to swamp the 
House of Lords, by creatino- new Peers in order to pass the Reform Bill, 
the name of Sir Isaac was upon the King's list. He desired to make him 
Earl of Magdelen, but the Ministers objected, on the ground of his strong 
attachment to his native country, and especially cited the fact of his 
fitting out a vessel with Yankee lads from his Lancasterian School at 
Nantucket, to make master mariners of them, which could not be viewed 
by England Avith favor. So it may in ti-uth ))e said that the Cortiu School 
at Nantucket cost the Admiral an Earldom, and came near sacriticing 
his Baronetcy. 

In 17'J0, when in command of the Alligator frigate, attheNore, under 
sailing orders, the Avind bloAving strong, a man fell OA'erl)oard. Cottin 
plunged in after him and saved his life ; but in doing so sustained an 
injury from which he never fully recovered. It Avas regarded as a most 
heroic feat, and has once since Ijeen attempted l)y another descendant 
of Tristram, born at Nantucket, Lieut. Seth :\I."'Ackley, of the V. S. 
NaA'y, Avho received therefor a commendatory letter froni the Secretary 
of the NaA'^y. 

Isaac Cottin Avas commissioner of the Royal Navy in 17S)5, and Avas 
sent to Corsica ; thence to Lisbon ; thence to ]\Iaho"n, in the Island of 
.^linorca. I'hen he Avas placed in charge of the King's yard atShearness. 
He spent some time about the coast of Australia ; and "" Sir Isaac's I\)inf' 
and " Coffin's Bay." as laid doAvn on the English Coast Charts of Aus- 
tralia, are named in honor of him. 

He married in 1811, Elizabeth, daughter of William (Jreenly, Esq., 
of Titley Court, Herefordshire ; aiul, assuming the lady's name, became 
Sir Isaac Coffin (jreenly. But the union Avas not a happy one, and they 
separated. She remained Lady Greenly and ho di-opped the Greenly. 
She Avas an exemplary lady, inclined to literary pursuits of a i-eligious 
tendencA' Avhich did not accord Avith his rollicking nature. 

He at one time took to politics aiul Avas elected meml)er of Parliti- 
mcnt for Ilchester. Inclining to Liberalism, he consorted Avith the AMiigs 
and became noted for his rough humor and salt sayings. 

Of his ready Avit many stories are told — one Avill suffice. Once, on 
his Avay to Titley Court, stopping to l)ait at C'hepstow, he Avas informed 
by the innkeeper that an American, a prisoner, contined in the castle 
hard by, claimed to be his relatiA'c, and prayed for an interA'ieAV. Sir 
Isaac, curiously, acceded, Avent to the prison, and Avas introduced to " a 
gentleman of colour." Both surprised and annised, he Avas informed liy 
Sam])o that he Avas an American, a namesake, and must therefore 1»e a 
relation, as no one Avould be likely to take his name for the fun of the 
thing. " Stop, my man, stop," interjected the Admiral, " let me ask yon 
a question. Pray, hoAV old may you be? " " Well," rei)liedthe other, " I 
should guess about thirty-live." •' Oh! then," rejoined his interlocutor, 
turning uAvay, " there is clearly a mistake here, you can't be one of my 
Coffins — none of my people ever turn Idack before they are forty." He 
nevertheless secured Sambo's release. 

One day aji American ship sailed into Portsmouth or I'lymoutli, Eng- 
huul, befoi-e the Avar of 1812, Avhen Sir Isaac had charge of the Naval 
fleet. An English officer Avas sent on board. The master haA'ing gone 



THE OOFFIN FMtU.Y. Gl 

oil shore, the mate l)eiuu' in chara'e did not receiA'c the officer with the 
ctiixuette required on such occasions. The officer gave the first sahita- 
tiou as he reached the deck, by saying- " What kind of a d — d Yankee 
hibher has charge here, "who don't know his dntj- to properly receive his 
majesty's officer?"' The mate said not a word, but seizing his visitor by 
tlic coUar and slack of his trousers threw him overboard, for his own 
crew to pick up. Soon after an armed boat came alongside to take the 
mate on board the tlag ship, where he was arraigned before Sir Isaac, 
who soon became aware that the culprit was a kinsman, whose father he 
liad been familiar witli in ))oyhood. lie tried to get the mate to acknowl- 
edge that he was ignorant of the laws and customs, that he might dismiss 
the case, with admonition, but the Yankee was obdurate: "Ile'd be 
d — d," he said, " if any man should insult him with impunity on his own 
deck and under the tlag of his country.'" The otfendcr was remanded to 
be regularly tried the next day. In "the meantime the Admiral sent a 
messenger to privately inform the mate that a suitable apology would re- 
lieve him from any further tronl)le in the matter ; but on the trial the 
same detiant manner was assumed. The Admiral drew out some ex- 
pression, however, which he accepted as satisfiictory, and dismissed the 
offender with suitable admonitions. 

Later in the da}- from the shore, the Admiral sent a message to the 
young man stating that, as his father was an old friend and relative, he 
would be happy to meet the son and enjoy a bottle of Avine with him at 
the inn. But the j'oung man replied that the Admiral might go to h — 1 
with his wine. He'd see him d — d tirst before he'd drink witli" any d — d 
Englisher, especially one Avho would approve of an insult to an officer 
under his own flag upon his own deck. 

The Admiral used to relate the above incident with much gusto, as 
he admired the spirit of independence exhibited by the Yankee mate. 

Perhaps the most beneticial and truly philanthropic act of the Admi- 
ral was the founding of the Coffin School at Nantucket, a complete his- 
tory of which, written by George Ilowland Folger, Esq., a former pupil 
of "the school, it is hoped will soon be presented to the public. 

C'ait. Setii Coffin, born at Xantucket, June 25, 1753, was a man of 
undaunted courage, as the following incident related to me by his great- 
gi'anddaughter. Miss Emma Y. Ilallett, will abundantly exhibit. Capt. 
Coffin commanded a whaleship veiy young. In 1800, in the ship 3Iiverra, 
off Brazil Banks, in the capture of a large sperm whale. Capt. Coffin's 
leg was crushed, and no one on board had knowledge of surgery suffi- 
cient to perform amputation except himself, and he had only witnessed 
one such a case under similar circumstances. So he called for an instru- 
ment used in cutting in whale's blubber, and then called his mate, and, 
bracing himself up on his couch, addressed his mate in this wise : " Rly 
leg has got to come ofl", or I shall die. I know how it should be done, 
and will shoAV you how to do it. If you flinch one whit I'll send this in- 
strument through you. I am ready. Begin! " And the mate did begin, 
the captain instructing him how to take up each artery, and his leg was 
saved. When the last bandage was properly adjusted both men fainted. 

Joshua Coffin, Esq., the historian of Newburv', was born at New- 
bury, in the old Coffin mansion, previously described, on the 12th of 
October, 1792, and died in the old home of his ancestors on the 24th of 
'June, 1804, aged 7;]. He was a school teacher for many years, number- 
ing among his pupils John Greenleaf Whittier and Cornelius C. Felton, 



62 THE COFFIN FA^NHLY. 

botli ol Aviioin liiivc spoken of their old roiurher in hiaii rei'ius of praise : 
the poet owning ;i debt of gratitude in a noble poem. ^Ir. Coffin Avas 
much e)igaged in anti(iuariaii pursuits and contributed niucii labor in 
that held. lie publisheil several works, and was by his neighbors some- 
times called the " Walking Encyclopedia/' there being scarcely any sub- 
ject w'ithin the range of human knowledge that he had not exannned. 
and ids wonderfully retentive memory m;ule him a storehouse of useful 
information. 

LucKETiA IMoTT died at hci- residence )iear Thiladelphia, on the even- 
ing of Xov. 11, 1S81), at the advanced age of s7 years, 10 months and -s 
days. 8he was born in Nantucket the "third of' January, A. 1). 179;), in 
ii house which stood on the spot now occupied by the residence of Capt. 
Obed Star))uck. on Fair street. Iler father subse(piently built the house 
now occupied by rFudge T. C. Delilez, next south of lier birth-place, in 
which her early childhood was passed. She was a direct descendant of 
the lirst Tristram Coffin on the paternad side, and of the first Feter 
Folger on the maternal side, her father l)eariug tiie name of Thomas 
Coffin iind her mother that of Anna. (Folger) Coffin. 

In ISiji, Lucretia then l^eing only 11 yea.rs old, her parents removed 
to Boston. Here for ;d-)out two years she attended the Boston schools 
with great :nlvantage to herself. At the age of l;! she was sent to a 
Friends" Boiirding School, in Dutchess Count}', New York, where she re- 
mained three years, during the last year employed as an assistant 
teacher, which shovfs how great her proficiency had been. Iler parents, 
meantime, had removed to Pliiladclphia, where she subsequently joined 
them in ISO'J. Two years later, in Lsll, ;it the age of is, she was united 
in marriage with rhunes Mott, of Philadelphia, who afterwards became a 
business paj'tner of her father. Thus early settled in life the womanly 
duties of wife and mother devolved upon her, and were discharged with 
unening hdelity, live out of six children born to her having arrived at 
maturity and lived to the credit of their mother's excellent example. 

She was an approved mijiister of the Society of Friends, and in 1827, 
took sides with Elias Kicks, and was thereafter known as a Ilicksite. 

Her active mind, directed and developed ))y the peculiar teachings 
of her religious sect, took a wider range than h:id previously been cus- 
tomary with women, and she gave of her best oflerings to the world. In 
all the great moral reforms she took an active part, manifesting' a great 
intere.'^t in the advancement of the working classes, frequentlj' attendi)ig 
their meetings, and adding her testimony to the righteousness of their 
tiause. She was unquestionably the most gifted woman of her time, and 
used her gifts with consummate wisdom. As a spiritual, moral and in- 
tellectual force of the nineteentii century she had no superior the world 
over. Iler power of speech Avas almost divine ; lier " words were gold 
coined in the mint of a royal mind ;" whatever her hand touched, it 
blessed ; whatever her warm sympathy l)ecame attached to, grew in 
stature and comeliness. She was the ])right morning star of intellectual 
freedom in America, and she helped break the chains which bound a 
race in physical slavery. But for the fact that her death Avas to have 
been expected, the announcement would have spread a gloom throughout 
the bounds of civilization. The idol of to-day may cnnvd the hero of 
yesterday from the speech of mankind ; but the life of Lucretia ]\Iott^ 
has left an influence upon the Avorld Avhich time cannot destroy or eflface : 
and, so long as there is left a chord in the heart of humanity which beats 



THE C'OFFIX F.OnLY. (53 

responsively to the truth and purity of her life, so loiii>- Avill there be pil- 
grims jourueyiui!: to her tomb to drop tliereon in mingled profusion Avliite 
Sowers and tcai-s. 

Pk<.>f. James Hexky Coffix, LL. ])., was born at AVillianisburg, near 
Northampton, ;Mass., Sept. (i, 180G, and v*'as sixty-six years and live 
montlis old at tlie time of his death. Being left a poor orphan, he went 
to live witli his uncle, the Kev. Closes Ilallock, under whose care lie was 
educated. lie gradiiated at Amherst College in lS2fs. After leaving 
college he engaged in teaching in ^Massachusetts, entering upon a pro- 
fession in which he continued until the day of his death, lie esta))lished 
one of the tirst manual labor schools in tlie country, at Greentield, ^hiss., 
which was known as the Fellenberg Academy. Le;iving (ireentield in 
1887, he went to Ogdensburg, X. Y., to take charge of a school there. 
Here he remained till is;5<). Ills scientitic life dates from this tii^ie. Here 
he became interested in Meteorology. In 18o9 he left Ogdensl^urg to be- 
come a tutor in Williams College, where he remained hve years.' Here 
he published a Avork on the mode of cak'iilating solar and lunar eclipses, 
Avhich was extensively used. During the s;inie period he devised the 
erection and superintended the building of the Greylock Observatory on 
Saddle ^Mountain. In this observatory he placed the first combined, self- 
registering instrument to determine the direction, velocitj' and moisture 
of Avinds, ever constructed. An improved instrument for the same pur- 
pose he recently presented to the Ol^servatory at Cordova, Buenos Ayres. 
Leaving Williams College in lHio, he spent three years in teaching at 
NorAvaik, Conn. In 1844: an acciuaintanceship began, Avhich continued 
up to tlie time of the rebellion, betAveen the Professor and ('apt. M. F. 
Alairry, U. S. N. Capt. Maury is Avell knoAvn for his iiiA'estigations into 
the subject of oceanic currents and Avinds. In 18-40 Prof. Cottin accepted 
the position of Professor of Mathematics in Lafayette College, and for 
tAventy-scA'cn years his life has been spent in Easton. As Professor ot 
Mathematics at Lafayette, Dr. Cottn aa'ou much celebrity, but his name 
Avill, perhaps, be more Avidcly knoAvn throughout the country as a con- 
tributor to the reports of the Smithsonian Institution, and for his inves- 
tigations ou the subject of Avinds and atmospheric changes. In this held 
he Avas a pioneer. TAventy-tAVO years ago tiie Smithsonian Institution 
published a large quarto volume of Prof. Collin's, on the Winds of the 
Northejrn Hemisphere. For some years he Avas engaged on another 
work, Avhich at the time of his death Avas nearly ready for publication. 
This volume Avas a treatise on the "Winds of the Globe."' Issued l>y 
Smithsonian Institution, 1870 — pages 781 ; 20 plates, the largest numer- 
ical tables ever issued from the American press. Among his more 
important mathematical Avorks are a "Treatise 0}i Solar and Lunar 
Eclipses," a Avork on the "Meteoric Fire-ball of July, 1800,"'' "Astro- 
nomical Tables," "Conic Sections," and "Analytical Geometry."' 

The merits and learning of Dr. Coffin Avere not unrecognized. He 
was one of the first elected members of the National Academy of Science, 
and Avas a prominent member of the American Association for the Ad- 
vancement of Science, at Avhose meetings he frequently read papers on 
meteorological subjects. At the time of his death, on the sixth of Feb- 
ruary, 187;:5, he Avas an elder in the Brainerd Church. He united Avith 
the church at an early age, and liA'ed a sincere and devout christian. 

C.VPT. Reuben Coffix, ot Athens, N. Y., Avas in command of steamer 
iSeth Loir, during the war of the Rebellion, chartered to tOAV from New 



61 THE COFFIX FAMILY. 

York to f J timet* River the Jfonitor, with orders to proceed with all possi- 
ble dispatch. When running down tlie coast witli tlie Movitor in tow, a 
licavj- log" set in with a heavy sea. The United States officers on Ijoard 
in command of the yDniitor wanted Captain Collin, of the Lov\ to cast 
anclior, as the lead showed they were shoaling their water and might get 
ashore. Captain Coffin told the officers he would run otf shore and that 
would give more water, that his orders w>re toproceed with all possible 
dispatch, and he was not going to stop unless compelled to, and kept on 
his course, and reached his destination during the night previous to the 
famous tight between the 3Ionitor and Merrimack. Xever had any 
arrival proved more fortunate. T\\q Monitor saved the balance of the 
United States fleet not already destroyed. This act of Captain Coffin in 
keeping on his course against the protests of the laiited States officei's 
saved many valuable lives, and the government millions of money. 



THE COFFIN COAT OF Ali3W. 

Heraldry has a language all its own, the significance of which none 
but careful students wlao have made it a specialty will pretend to abso- 
lute accurac}' in its exposition. Brieflj' stated, it is the science of con- 
ventional distinctions impressed on shields or banners, and is l^oth 
national and personal. The latter treats of bearings belonging to indi- 
viduals either in their own oi' liereditary right. The CoffinsTiave always 
claimed Coat Armour in hereditary right. That branch descended from 
Nathaniel Coffin, father of Admiral Sir Jsaac, inherit the right through 
the Admiral's grant, and are imquestionably entitled to wear his Coat of 
Arms, but this differs essentially in its emblazonment from the more 
ancient ones. 

Authorities upon English heraldry give, as belonging to the Coffins 
of Devonshire, a description which, in its combination, is unlike any 
other family bearings, and consists of Bezants and Cross-Crosslets. 
While they ditter as to order of arrangement and combination, the num- 
ber of Bezants is never less than three nor more than four, and the 
Cross-Crosslets vary from live upward to a semee which is an indelinite 
convenient number. 

The Bezants are a roundle representing the ancient gold "coin of 
Byzantium, current in England from the tenth centiiry to the time of 
Edward 111., and Avas probably introduced into coat armour by the cru- 
saders. The white roundle exhibited upon Admiral Sir Isaac's Arms, is 
of silver, and is usually called a plate, although there were silver bezants 
used as coin. The Cross-Crosslets are Crosses crossed on each arm. 

The Crests and Mottoes arc of quite modern origin. 



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